Back in 2013, when The Circle was first published, the idea of social media taking over the world was beginning to become less dystopian and increasingly realistic. I am convinced now, in 2020, that Dave Eggers has an uncanny ability to predict the future. Fans of 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale will recognize similar creepy, and near-apocalyptic themes of surveillance and late-stage capitalism. While The Circle doesn't arrive at any particular answer, it continues to serve as a warning for how insidious technology and Silicon Valley have become. Recommended By Alex Y., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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
“Fascinating...Eggers appears to run on pure adrenaline, and has as many ideas pouring out of him as the entrepreneurs pitching their inventions in The Circle....[A] novel of ideas...about the social construction and deconstruction of privacy, and about the increasing corporate ownership of privacy, and about the effects such ownership may have on the nature of Western democracy....Like Melville’s Pequod and Stephen King’s Overlook Hotel, the Circle is a combination of physical container, financial system, spiritual state, and dramatis personae, intended to represent America, or at least a powerful segment of it.” Margaret Atwood, The New York Review of Books
"Never less than entertaining....Eggers is such an engaging, tactile writer that the reader happily follows him wherever he’s going....A fun and inventive read.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“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.” The New York Times Magazine
"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
“The Circle is Brave New World for our brave new world....Now that we all live and move and have our being in the panopticon, Eggers’s novel may be just fast enough, witty enough and troubling enough to make us glance away from our twerking Vines and consider how life has been reshaped by a handful of clever marketers....There may come a day when we can look back at this novel with incredulity, but for now, the mirror it holds up is too chilling to LOL.” Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“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)
“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)
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.