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The monk of Mokha
2018
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Summary
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"A gripping, triumphant adventure" (Los Angeles Times ) from bestselling author Dave Eggers, the incredible true story of a young Yemeni American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana'a by civil war.

Mokhtar Alkhanshali is twenty-four and working as a doorman when he discovers the astonishing history of coffee and Yemen's central place in it. He leaves San Francisco and travels deep into his ancestral homeland to tour terraced farms high in the country's rugged mountains and meet beleaguered but determined farmers. But when war engulfs the country and Saudi bombs rain down, Mokhtar has to find a way out of Yemen without sacrificing his dreams or abandoning his people.
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Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Journalism is integral to Eggers' (Heroes of the Frontier, 2016) many-faceted, socially responsible literary life, and his nonfiction forte is telling the story of compelling individuals who have faced unfathomable adversity, as in Zeitoun (2009), the story of a Syrian American in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Here Eggers portrays Yemeni American Mokhtar Alkhanshali, who, after an unruly childhood in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood, a transformative stay in Yemen with his grandfather, and success as a car salesman, finally finds his calling, which proves to be quixotic and dangerous: he commits himself to restoring Yemen's long-forgotten standing as the world's first and best coffee producer. Eggers crisply recounts coffee's delectably roguish history, into which Mokhtar's Sisyphean struggles fit perfectly. Just as fast-talking, improvisational, kind, and monomaniacal Mokhtar attempts, against epic odds, to rekindle the lost art of quality coffee cultivation in Yemen, the country descends into a civil war made worse by al-Qaeda, Saudi bombings, and U.S. drone attacks. He repeatedly ends up in terrifying and dire situations, relying on his wits and bravado to save him and his companions. Readers will never take coffee for granted or overlook the struggles of Yemen after ingesting Egger's phenomenally well-written, juggernaut of a tale of an intrepid and irresistible entrepreneur on a complex and meaningful mission. This highly caffeinated adventure story is ready-made for the big screen. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Eggers, gifted and giving, will tour and make all kinds of media appearances with Alkhanshali, guaranteeing elevated interest in this broadly appealing true story.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2017 Booklist
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