Mokhtar Alkhanshali stands at the door of a San Francisco apartment building, day after day. As the doors swing open and close at the push of a button, Alkhanshali feels his life dwindle away. Having climbed the rungs of society from his childhood in the ghetto streets of the Tenderloin district, as the son of Yemeni immigrants, Alkhanshali’s lofty dreams and aspirations seem to have only amounted to the title of “lobby ambassador.” Unironically, he resembled a cup of Yemeni coffee. Although the coffee bean originated in Yemen, around five hundred years ago, today it is deemed some of the worst in the world. Determined to restore its honor, as well as his own passion, Alkhanshali set off on a hero’s journey. Across years, war-torn lands, rebel attacks, and surprisingly trustworthy friends in low places, Alkhanshali made history upon his return in 2015. Dave Eggers, in his elemental narrative biographical style, cultivates Alkhanshali’s story in The Monk of Mokha.
Described by the New York Times as an odyssey, with sentences of “Orwellian clarity,” Dave Eggers’ writing is as equally memorable as the epic story itself. It leaves the reader searching for more, as the pertinence of the dangers Alkhashali overcame is timely. As he was wrapping up his business in Yemen, war broke out. Seeking out the American embassy, Alkhashali revealed serious snags in the help granted from his American citizenship. Due to the escalated situation, no Americans would be able to evacuate safely. His only option was to take the last resort, a thrilling, fictional-esque escape from the country. Framing Alkhashali’s struggle of race, religion, and manhood from childhood, Eggers retells an unforgettable story.
To judge is human nature. Picking up Dave Eggers’ beautifully illustrated hardback from a library shelf one day was simply a product of such judgment. Little did I know I would be sucked into a captivating world of real-life Yemeni-American hero in his classic rags to riches story. For the coffee lover, seeker of strong protagonists, or the biography consumer, Dave Eggers has written The Monk of Mokha for you.