A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Background

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Background

Dave Eggers is an American novelist born on March 12, 1970 in Boston, Massachusetts. He was raised in a very scholarly and academia-focused family as his father was an attorney and his mother a teacher. After graduating high school, he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a journalism major, but his studies were cut short by the deaths of both of his parents. His father died in 1991 from brain cancer and his mother died in 1992 from stomach cancer. Eggers was only 21-years-old and his younger brother, Christopher, was 8. Despite these harrowing losses, Eggers persevered and moved to California with his brother to start a new life. In California, he did freelance work to support himself and eventually started his own magazine, Might, a satirical publication on current political issues of the day.

In 2000, Dave Eggers published a memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, that details the trauma he endured in his young adulthood. It starts with the deaths of his parents, but the bulk of the novel discusses his journey driving from his hometown of Chicago to the sunny hills of California. He and his brother tackle the world from the front seats of a car.

Upon its publication, Eggers’s autobiography received rave reviews for its moving look into a pair of siblings who persevered in the face of traumatic loss. It was an instant bestseller, named one of New York Times’ Ten Best Books of the Year, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Fran Singh of The Guardian says of Eggers that “his journey is a psychological journey as much as a geographical one. For all the brash exuberance of its writing it has at its heart the simple human tale of a young man, dealing with unbearable loss, navigating himself towards adulthood.”

Since A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers has published numerous more novels, including You Shall Know Our Velocity, What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, and A Hologram for the King. He has also founded a book publishing house, McSweeney’s.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.