Saturday, October 06, 2007

What is the what?

Valentino's father tells the story of creation--the beginning for the monyjang people.

--Yes, he continued, God showed man the idea of cattle, and the cattle were magnificent. They were in every way exactly what the monyjang would want. The man and woman thanked God for such a gift, because they knew that the cattle would bring them milk and meat and prosperity of every kind. But God was not finished.
--He never is, Sadiq said, to a wave of laughter.
--God said, "You can either have these cattle, as my gift to you, or you can have
the What." My father waited for the necessary response.
--But...Sadiq said, helping out, --What is the What? he said, with an air of theatrical inquisitiveness.
--Yes, yes. That was the question. "What is the What?" the first man asked. And God
said to the man, "I cannot tell you. Still, you have to choose. You have to choose
between the cattle and the What."
We catch glimpses of what the "What" may be as Valentino's story progresses. Dave Eggers has novelized the story of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese refugee now living in the United States and working to improve the lives of his family and countrymen back in Sudan. It is an inspiring tale of survival and hope.

Proceeds from the purchase of the book also go to the Valentino Achak Deng foundation, which is working to rebuild Marial Bai, Valentino's birthplace. So simply buying the book helps--and reading it gives you a better understanding of the civil war that raged for so long in southern Sudan and still affects areas such as Darfur.

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