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Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? review – Dave Eggers’s accomplished hostage drama

For The Guardian

A doubting Thomas kidnaps and interrogates significant people in his life in Dave Eggers’s ambitious, dialogue-only novel

Dave Eggers is a one-man essay in the value and virtue of a life in writing in the 21st century. This is his third published novel in three years. And yet his work never drops below a certain standard and the dude just keeps it coming.

This is the story of a “methodical and non-violent” guy called Thomas, who is seeking the answers to some big questions in his life. In order to facilitate these enquiries, he chloroforms personally significant people from the local town, kidnaps them and then chains them to posts inside separate rooms in a vast disused military base overlooking the Pacific Ocean. As further questions arise and as the story expands, so too does the need for new captives. Thomas is able rigorously to insist (with the threat of his Taser where necessary) that his prisoners tell him the truth. And so one “deposition” leads into another until Thomas starts to feel that things “are really clarifying” for him. Then he meets a girl.

Interestingly, the novel consists solely of the interviews that Thomas conducts and is therefore written only in dialogue.

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