The parade : a novel

by Dave Eggers

Hardcover, 2019




New York ; Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2019.


"From the best-selling author of The Monk of Mokha, a spare, powerful story of two men, Western contractors sent to work far from home, tasked with paving a road to the capital in a dangerous and largely lawless country. Four and Nine are partners, working for the same company, sent without passports to a nation recovering from ten years of civil war. Together, operating under pseudonyms and anonymous to potential kidnappers, they are given a new machine, the RS-90, and tasked with building a highway that connects the country's far-flung villages with the capital. Four, nicknamed the Clock, is one of the company's most experienced operators, never falling short of his assigned schedule. He drives the RS-90, stopping only to sleep and eat the food provided by the company. But Nine is an agent of chaos: speeding ahead on his vehicle, chatting and joking with locals, eating at nearby bars and roadside food stands, he threatens the schedule, breaks protocol, and endangers the work that they must complete in time for a planned government parade. His every action draws Four's ire, but when illness, corruption, and theft compromise their high-stakes mission, Four and Nine discover danger far greater than anything they could pose to each other"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member gbill
I like how clean Eggers’ writing is; to me he’s like a socially conscious and liberal version of Hemingway. While he doesn’t name the war-torn country this story is set in or even any of the characters, the themes of poverty in the world and human nature have such an immediacy and relevance. The two main characters work for a foreign construction company who have a very advanced road paver, and are responsible for running it over a long stretch of land to connect the two parts of a country as part of its reconstruction. There is danger in any kind of interaction with the locals, even well-meaning, but one of them is new to the job and clearly didn’t get the memo. I loved how there is nuance in these characters, and how it examines virtue and priorities in what is an almost absurd, existential situation. I also loved how local people who may seem dangerous continually turn out to be just ordinary people. It’s the unseen power that wishes to preserve its power that is often the thing to be wary of. Without spoiling it I’ll just I didn’t care for the ending though, and not because I wanted something completely different, but because it lacks subtlety.… (more)
LibraryThing member AnnieMod
Two men go to a country that had just emerged from a brutal civil war with a very easy - build a road between the South and the North. They have a machine that essentially does the work - they just need to guide it and make sure the road is straight and does not have anomalies - and then leave, never to return.

One of them, Four (names are dangerous so numerical pseudonyms are used) is a veteran - it is his 63rd project and he knows how it works - go down, don't look at anything local, don't talk to the locals or even acknowledge their existence, build the road and go home. Nine on the other hand is new - and despite all the rules, he decides that this road is too important for the impoverished South - so he decides to meet the people and accept their hospitality. Which ends in a lot of "anomalies" - almost ending in death.

And the road is getting built - while we see a sketch of the land - with some minor blimps when Nine does something weird again. The deadline cannot be missed - because there is a parade coming -- and the North needs the road for that. It sounds like an easy story but something keeps ringing wrong in places where it should not.

It is the end that makes it clear what exactly was sounding the alarms in one's head - I almost expected it because of how the novel was going but hoped until these last sentences that this is not where the novel was going.

You can read the novel in a lot of ways. Read it as it is and it is a good story. Read it as an allegory of helping a foreign country without understanding the country and the people and without listening to them and it rings different bells in one's head. In both cases, it makes you think - because good intentions do not always lead to good deeds. And because humans will be humans.
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LibraryThing member mojomomma
Eggers takes the mundane task of paving a road and turns it into an edge of your seat tale that will keep you turning pages. The front cover provides all of he forshadowing.
LibraryThing member Stahl-Ricco
Two men, 4 and 9, are on the job paving a new, 230 kilometer roadway using the RS-80, the one-man paving machine. 4 is meticulous and businesslike, 9 is a free spirit and not much of a rule follower. 9 stresses 4 out. And then...

An interesting looks at two men and their completely different viewpoints on life. All while connecting the north and south of a country that was recently divided by war. Even though this is a short read, I felt it could have been shorter still, as it felt a bit repetitive at times. But the ending is superb, so stick to it for the big payoff!

Thanks to Knopf Marketing, and the author, for providing an autographed copy of this book for our Little Free Library!
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LibraryThing member DKnight0918
Not my favorite Eggers book. Four was my favorite character but I did feel bad for Nine at times. I know Nine meant well with wanting to eat with the locals and communicate with them but in a way I feel like this contributed to the sad ending. I love Eggers’ writing style but this book although short was hard to read at times. Thanks to Penguin Random House/First to Read for the review copy.… (more)
LibraryThing member brangwinn
I didn’t think I would like this story. The sparse language and the two main characters had little appeal to me as I started, and yet I got caught up in the story of Four (the boss of the road building) and Nine (his ne’er do well assistant). Set in an unnamed country after a civil war, the two are part of a road building team required to finish a highway in time for a presidential parade. The ending caught me off guard, and I still think about its meaning.… (more)
LibraryThing member adzebill
Enjoyed this; Eggers being pithy.
LibraryThing member varwenea
In "The Parade", two employees of The Company are tasked to lay a new stretch of road connecting the south and the north of a war-torn country that has recently found peace. Employee with the codename of ‘Four’ is the senior having done many of these jobs and who sticks to the strict guidelines of the company to stay on schedule, minimize distraction, and protect oneself. Employee with the codename of ‘Nine’ is new, impetuous, irresponsible, yet friendly, disregarding company guidelines. Four’s job is to operate the machine that lays the road, while Nine is tasked to make sure the road is clear. A parade is scheduled to celebrate the completion of this road.

Throughout the book, the reader observes entirely divergent interactions of these two foreigners with the locals. Reserved, cautious, and at times dismissive. Embracing and engaging yet also foolhardy. The locals are curious, open, and also generous, despite wanting ‘somethings’ in return. Eggers has a crispness in his writing and an economy of words that deliver Four’s frustrations, Nine’s reckless engagements, and the locals’ varied reactions to them and this road. It’s a short, easy read – but…

I don’t recommend finishing this book before going to sleep. Since Eggers is not known for writing books that are used for Hallmark Channel movies, I knew something was coming and when it does, it’s hard to sleep with those words lingering in my mind.
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LibraryThing member nivramkoorb
I am a big fan of Dave Eggers for his writing but also the good he does for our bay area community. This is a short book and it is good but not great. The style was very terse without a lot of prose. The story surrounds the final paving of a 150 mile road connecting the south to the north in an unnamed country that recently ended a long bloody civil war. The 2 contractors(4 and 9) for security reasons work for the contracting company. As the reader you are given no information or background about either contractor. You know them by their actions. 4 is all business on his 63rd assignment and 9 is fun loving on his first. The clash of styles fuels much of the narrative of the book. There are many lessons that Eggers is trying to make, but will the reader really figure those out? The book was a page turner for me with an ending that got you thinking. If you have never read Eggers, this small book(180 pages) might be a good introduction but his best is his first " A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius".… (more)



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