The Monk of Mokha

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Mokhtar Alkanshali, the protagonist at the heart of this tale, is easy to root for. His passion for Yemeni coffee, a specialty so precise he may be the only living expert on it, leads him on a journey to Yemen, the homeland of his immigrant parents, at precisely the wrong time, when the country is on a U.S. State Department list of countries to avoid.

Eggers, a celebrated novelist, humorist, memoirist, and the founder of the riotous McSweeney’s, has captured Mokhtar’s story in a way that is both exotic and familiar. The determination and resilience of Mokhtar in the face of harrowing encounters across the globe reads like a kind of great American frontier story: Mokhtar saw an untouched landscape, the Yemeni coffee market, and went toward his fortune with the determination of settlers moving West. What Eggers captures isn’t just adventure, though. It is also the mundane details of trying to make any venture take flight: bullet-pointed lists that substitute for business plans, intense research about your product and process, haggling with the TSA. But it is in these seemingly mundane details that the story comes to life and that we understand who Mokhtar is and why this is all so important to him.

Focusing on this one man’s life allows Eggers to walk into some political territory at times, confronting treatment of Muslim citizens and global conflicts is less heavy-handed in an autobiography than it might be in other forms. It doesn’t matter, though, that there is a bit of proselytizing here because the message being preached is one of determination, cooperation, and pride, universal values we could all do better to study and emulate.


Reviewed By:

Author Dave Eggers
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 352 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2018-Jan-30
ISBN 9781101947319
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2018
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy
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