News Release

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Miami University
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Academic procession to kick off university convocation Aug. 17; Dave Eggers, Alex Pial keynote speakers


Dave Eggers, author of What is the What, will speak with Alex Pial, a survivor of the atrocities in Sudan, for Miami University's convocation at 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 17, in Millett Hall.

What is the What is based on Deng's experiences as a refugee in war-ravaged southern Sudan. Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, wrote: "I cannot recall the last time I was this moved by a novel. What is the What is that rare book that truly deserves the overused and scarcely warranted moniker of 'sprawling epic.' ... with humor, humanity and bottomless compassion ... Eggers shows us the hardships, disillusions and hopes of the long-suffering people of southern Sudan. ... I believe I will never forget Valentino Achak Deng."

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 editor of McSweeney's, a quarterly magazine- and book-publishing company, and is co-founder of 826 Valencia, a network of nonprofit writing and tutoring centers for young people. A journalist, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire and The Believer.

What is the What was selected for the 2007 summer reading program at Miami. Following convocation, students will meet in small groups with faculty and staff volunteers to discuss the book. This is the 26th year for the summer reading program at Miami.

University convocation is open to the public. An academic procession to Millett Hall, beginning at 8:15 a.m. at the Hub near Roudebush, will kick off the convocation. Following the speech by Eggers, student discussion sessions will be held from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Eggers also will appear at a special event presented by the Roger and Joyce Howe Center for Writing Excellence from noon to 2 p.m. in 112 Marcum Center Aug. 17. Inspired by his passion for writing, Eggers founded community writing centers for children 6 to 18 in seven cities, including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. The centers offer drop-in tutoring, field trips, workshops and in-schools programs for children, classes, and schools with particular interests or needs. Eggers' presentation, "Writing Centers and the Community," is open to the public. Contact Kate Francis, to RSVP. More information is available at


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