Author Dave Eggers on his New Book, “The Parade”

Renowned novelist Dave Eggers has gained a reputation for chronicling the most important societal upheavals of our time. He joins the program to discuss his new book “The Parade,” which asks what happens when foreigners drop into work and help in developing countries ravaged by war.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So, let’s talk about your latest book. And it’s actually a continuation almost of some of the books you’ve written, which you look like a sort of exploration around the world. This one is really interesting, short but it’s about two contractors who are building a road to connect a rural south to an urban north after a war and there’s meant to be a parade to celebrate the completion of this road, but it doesn’t all go to plan. Give us the sort of bones of the story without being a spoiler.

DAVE EGGERS, AUTHOR, “THE PARADE”: Well, these are two workers. They’re just pavers, they’re contractors that are doing the work as the same way they would anywhere in the world, they drop in without passports, without known identities and they’re there to do a job but they take drastically different views on their work and they approach it differently. One just wants to do the work and go home and get the job done and his a veteran of this kind of work, and the other sees it as an adventure and an invitation to engage deeply in the local culture. But both approaches are fraught and have their own complications.

AMANPOUR: Well, interestingly, you know, you don’t name them. Certainly, you don’t name what country they come from but you don’t actually give them names, they’re called Nine and Four.

EGGERS: Well, I — you know, I wanted them to be nameless and countryless because I think, at least, here in the U.S. we assume that characters like this are representative of American adventurers or interventions abroad. And this kind of work is not at all exclusive to the U.S. And particularly, right now, all over the world and in particular in Africa, the Chinese are doing all kinds of road building, port building, railway building. And so — and, you know, years ago in South Sudan, I saw a Swedish team building a road in rural South Sudan and I thought it’s — I was interested in what the Swedish team parachuted into rural South Sudan was thinking and what was — what did they gather or ruminate on in terms of the implications of their work and sort of where they were, did they know the history, did they know the impact and the possible consequences of that work. And so, I wanted them to be kind of nameless because you could insert any sort of industrialized country into sort of the work of these two guys.

AMANPOUR: So, let me just — let me dig down into that. Because I do find it interesting that you are posing that question about what is the ethics, what is the morality of intervention,

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with David Beasley and Mary Schiavo about the fatal plane crash in Ethiopia; and Dave Eggers about his new book, “The Parade.” Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Todd Douglas Miller about “Apollo 11,” his new documentary that chronicles the moment Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.