Dave Eggers was born in Boston, Massachusetts, grew up in suburban Lake Forest and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is married to the writer Vendela Vida (author of Girls on the Verge, And Now You Can Go, and Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name). They live in San Francisco with their daughter, October Adelaide Eggers Vida, born in October 2005.
Eggers began writing as a Salon.com editor and founded Might magazine, while also writing a comic strip called Smarter Feller (originally Swell, then Smart Feller) for SF Weekly. His first book was a memoir (with fictional elements), A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000). It focuses on the author's struggle to raise his younger brother in San Francisco following the sudden deaths of their parents. The book quickly became a bestseller and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.
Egger's sister, Beth, a lawyer in Modesto, California, claimed that Eggers grossly understated her role in raising their brother Toph and made use of her journals in writing A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius without compensating her, but later withdraw her claims. She committed suicide in 2002.
In 2002, Eggers published his first novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity, a story about a frustrating attempt to give away money to deserving people while haphazardly traveling the globe. An expanded and revised version was released as Sacrament in 2003 and retitled You Shall Know Our Velocity for its Vintage imprint distribution. He has edited many anthologies (mostly the Best American Nonrequired Reading series, an annual anthology of short stories, essays, journalism, satire, and alternative comics that first published in 2002) and in 2006 published his second novel, What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.
He is the founder of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house that publishes a number of books and literary journals including McSweeney's Quarterly (since 1998), a monthly journal, The Believer, since 2003 which is edited by Vendela Vida; and a quarterly DVD magazine, Wholphin, since 2005.
Eggers currently teaches writing in San Francisco at 826 Valencia, a nonprofit tutoring center and writing school for children that he cofounded with Vendela Vida in 2002. They have recruited volunteers to operate similar programs in Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, all under the auspices of the nonprofit organization 826 National.
In September 2007, the Heinz Foundations awarded Eggers a $250,000 Heinz award given to recognize "extraordinary achievements by individuals". The award will be used to fund some of the 826 Valencia writing centers. In 2008 he was the recipient of a TED Prize.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000)
Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers (co-authored with Daniel Moulthrop and Nínive Clements Calegari) (2005)
Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated (co-compiled with Lola Vollen; with an introduction by Scott Turow) (2005)
You Shall Know Our Velocity (novel, 2002)
Sacrament (novel, revised and expanded version of You Shall Know Our Velocity (2003)
The Unforbidden is Compulsory; or, Optimism (story, 2004)
How We Are Hungry (short stories, 2004)
Short Short Stories (short stories, (2005)
What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (novel, 2006)
How the Water Feels to the Fishes (short stories; part of One Hundred and Forty-Five Stories in a Small Box, 2007)
The Circle (2013)
Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? (2014)
Stories Upon Stories (short-story anthology; editor and contributor) (2016)
Heroes of the Frontier (2016)
About This Biography
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