Biography of Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in Lake Forest, Illinois, an affluent town near Chicago. When Eggers was 21, both of his parents died of cancer within a year of one another, leaving Eggers to care for his 8-year-old brother, Toph. Eggers put his journalism studies at the University of Illinois on hold and moved to Berkeley, California where he raised Toph, supporting them by working odd jobs. In the early 1990s, he worked with several friends to found Might, a literary magazine based out of San Francisco. The publication gained notoriety when it ran a hoax article describing the death of Adam Rich, a former child actor. Despite the acclaim, the magazine attracted only a limited readership and folded in 1997. In 1998, Eggers founded publishing house McSweeney's, taking on editorial duties of literary journal Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. Today, the wildly successful McSweeney's publishes a variety of online and print content, including Eggers' own novels and nonfiction, poetry, short story collections, and DVD magazines.

In 2000, Eggers published A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a memoir about raising Toph and working for Might. The book garnered a slew of critical plaudits, became a bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and launched Eggers into literary stardom. For the next five years, Eggers split his time between fiction and charitable projects, including 826 Valencia, a nonprofit children's writing center. Since the original chapter was founded in San Francisco in 2002, seven other cities - including New York, Boston, and Seattle - have opened up 826 sister organizations.

Much of Eggers' later writing has taken a socially conscious bent, building upon his journalism background. In 2006, he published What is the What, the "fictional autobiography" of Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng. All proceeds from the book were donated to charity, and in 2007, Eggers did the same with the proceeds from Zeitoun, his nonfictional account of a Syrian American imprisoned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also co-founded Voice of Witness, a book series that allows people from around the globe to orally transcribe their stories and point of view, which is designed to create a dialogue about human crises in all parts of the world.

Eggers' current interests remain in philanthropy and humanitarian work, with a focus on youth education. In 2002 he co-founded the literacy project 826 Valencia, which provides tutoring and workshops to help children and young adults develop their writing abilities (specially featuring programs that encourage journalistic writing). He also founded ScholarMatch in 2010, a program based in San Francisco but serving the entire US, that matches students needing funds for college tuition with donors along with providing coaching on the college and financial aid process. In 2008 he won the TED Prize and was given "one wish to change the world" - leading to the development of Once Upon a School, a project intended to "gather stories of private citizens engaged in their local schools so that people everywhere could share the details of their efforts in schools and be inspired by the work being done by others."

In addition to his ongoing literary and charitable work, Eggers co-wrote the screenplays for two lukewarmly received films: Spike Jonze's adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, and, with his wife Vendela Vida, Sam Mendes' Away We Go.

 


Study Guides on Works by Dave Eggers

Unlike many other works of dystopian science fiction, The Circle is set in a very near future, fitting neatly into the early 21st-century United States sociopolitical world of Google, Wikileaks, big data, and personalized advertisement.

The...

What is the What is a 2006 novel written by Dave Eggers. While Eggars takes full authorship of the book, the story is the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng. Deng is a Sudanese refugee and was a member of the Lost Boys of Sudan.

After...

Zeitoun is a nonfiction account of Abdulrahman Zeitoun's heroism and subsequent arrest in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, LA in 2005. Zeitoun, a Syrian immigrant and American citizen, chooses to ride out the storm...