An in-depth look at our authors for 2008:

Featured Authors

Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers is the author of three previous books: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity!, and How We are Hungry. He is the founder of McSweeney's, a magazine and book-publishing company, and is co-founder of 826 National, a network of nonprofit writing and tutoring centers for young people. As a journalist, his work has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, and the Believer. In 2004 he co-taught a class at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, out of which grew the Voice of Witness series of books, designed to illuminate contemporary human crises through oral history. The first in the series, Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated, was published in 2005. Voices from the Storm, about the residents of New Orleans who survived Hurricane Katrina, was published in the fall of 2006. Eggers lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his wife and daughter.

Valentino Achak Deng

Valentino Achak Deng was born in southern Sudan, in the village of Marial Bai. He fled Sudan in the late 1980's during civil war, when his village was destroyed by murahaleen—the same type of militia that currently terrorize Darfur. Deng spent nine years in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, where he worked for the UNHCR as a social advocate and reproductive health educator. In 2001 he resettled to Atlanta. Deng has toured the country speaking about his life in Sudan, his experience as a refugee, and his collaboration with author Dave Eggers on What Is the What, the novelized version of Deng's life story. As a leader in the Sudanese diaspora, Deng advocates for the universal right to education and the freedom of his people in Sudan. In 2006, Deng and Eggers established the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation to help rebuild Sudanese communities by increasing access to educational opportunities. The Foundation's first major initiative is to create a viable and community-driven educational center in Marial Bai.

Companion Authors

Mary Williams

Mary Williams has lived throughout the United States and Africa. She has held positions with several humanitarian organizations, including the International Rescue Committee and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). In 2000 Williams met some of the Lost Boys of Sudan who had relocated to the United States. She was so moved by their story that she created the Lost Boys Foundation, dedicated to raising awareness about these young men and organizing resources to help them. Williams lives in Atlanta, Georgia. This is her first book.

Mawi Asgedom

Mawi Asgedom fled civil war in Ethiopia and lived in a Sudanese refugee camp for three years. After he was resettled in the United States, Mawi overcame welfare, language barriers, and personal tragedy to graduate from Harvard University. Since 1999, Mawi has dedicated himself to working with teenagers. He has spoken to more than half a million students and educators across North America and is the founder of Mental Karate, an organization that helps teens create their own inspiring journeys.

Mawi's bestselling memoir, Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy's Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard, and his teen success guides—The Code, Win the Inner Battle, and Nothing is Impossible—have been read by teens and adults throughout the country. Citing the impact of his work, the Illinois Association of Teachers of English named Mawi the 2006 Illinois Author of the Year.