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The Circleby Dave Eggers
In Dave Eggers's latest page-turning novel, Mae Holland is ecstatic to get a job at the Circle — an Internet company that's like Google, Facebook, and Apple combined and on steroids. Thrilling and sinister, The Circle explores issues of connectivity, privacy, and democracy that our world is hurtling toward.
Synopses & Reviews
The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award.
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company's modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.
Mae can't believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world — even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman's ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.
"A vivid, roaring dissent to the companies that have coaxed us to disgorge every thought and action onto the Web….Carries the potential to change how the world views its addicted, compliant thrall to all things digital. If you work in Silicon Valley, or just care about what goes on there, you need to pay attention." The Wall Street Journal
"Most of us imagine totalitarianism as something imposed upon us — but what if we’re complicit in our own oppression? That’s the scenario in Eggers’ ambitious, terrifying, and eerily plausible new novel....Brave and important and will draw comparisons to Brave New World and 1984. Eggers brilliantly depicts the Internet binges, torrents of information, and endless loops of feedback that increasingly characterize modern life. But perhaps most chilling of all is his notion that our ultimate undoing could be something so petty as our desperate desire for affirmation.” Booklist (Starred Review)
"A stunning work of terrifying plausibility, a cautionary tale of subversive power in the digital age suavely packaged as a Silicon Valley social satire. Set in the near future, it examines the inner workings of the Circle, an internet company that is both spiritual and literal successor to Facebook, Google, Twitter and more, as seen through the eyes of Mae Holland, a new hire who starts in customer service...Eggers presents a Swiftian scenario so absurd in its logic and compelling in its motives...sneaking up on the reader before delivering its warnings of the future, a worthy and entertaining read." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"A parable about the perils of life in a digital age in which our personal data is increasingly collected, sifted and monetized, an age of surveillance and Big Data, in which privacy is obsolete, and Maoist collectivism is the order of the day. Using his fluent prose and instinctive storytelling gifts, Mr. Eggers does a nimble, and sometimes very funny, job of sending up technophiles' naïveté, self-interest and misguided idealism....A fun and inventive read." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"You can't really write a 1984 for our times, because 1984 is still the 1984 of our times. But one could think of Dave Eggers'...new novel The Circle as a timely and potent appendix to it. The crux of The Circle is that Big Brother is still haunting us, but in an incarnation that's both more genial and more insidious. We have met Big Brother, and he is us....In The Circle Eggers has set his style and pace to technothriller: the writing is brisk and spare and efficient....When I finished The Circle I felt a heightened awareness of social media and the way it's remaking our world into a living hell of constant and universal mutual observation." Lev Grossman, Time
"Page-turning....The social message of the novel is clear, but Eggers expertly weaves it into an elegantly told, compulsively readable parable for the 21st century....What may be the most haunting discovery about The Circle, however, is readers' recognition that they share the same technology-driven mentality that brings the novel's characters to the brink of dysfunction. We too want to know everything by watching, monitoring, commenting, and interacting, and the force of Eggers's richly allusive prose lies in his ability to expose the potential hazards of that impulse." Laura Christensen, Vanity Fair
"The particular charm and power of Eggers's book...could be described as 'topical' or 'timely,' though those pedestrian words do not nearly capture its imaginative vision....Simply a great story, with a fascinating protagonist, sharply drawn supporting characters and an exciting, unpredictable plot....As scary as the story's implications will be to some readers, the reading experience is pure pleasure." Hugo Lindgren, The New York Times Magazine
"In this taut, claustrophobic corporate thriller, Eggers comes down hard on the culture of digital over-sharing, creating a very-near-future dystopia in which all that is not forbidden is required....Eggers has a keen eye for context, and the great strength of The Circle lies in its observations about the way instant, asynchronous communication has damaged our personal relationships....A speculative morality tale in the vein of George Orwell....We go on using the social media platforms that have been used against us; we post geo-tagged photos that could lead potential criminals straight to our private homes and our children's preschools, and we do all of this with full knowledge of the possible consequences. We have closed our eyes and given our consent. Everyone else is doing it. In the digital age, it is better to be unsafe than to be left out." G. Willow Wilson, San Francisco Chronicle
"Entertaining....A sense of horror finally arrives near the end of the book, coming...though the power of Eggers's writing....The final scene is chilling." Ellen Ullman, The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Dave Eggers grew up near Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine, The Believer. McSweeney’s publishes Voice of Witness, a nonprofit book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. In 2002, he cofounded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit youth writing and tutoring center in San Francisco’s Mission District. Sister centers have since opened in seven other American cities under the umbrella of 826 National, and like-minded centers have opened in Dublin, London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Birmingham, Alabama, among other locations. His work has been nominated for the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, France’s Prix Médicis, Germany’s Albatross Prize, the National Magazine Award, and the American Book Award. Eggers lives in Northern California with his family.
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