The Literarian Award, 2009

Dave Eggers

The Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community is presented to an individual for outstanding service to the American literary community, whose life and work exemplify the goals of the National Book Foundation to expand the audience for literature and to enhance the cultural value of literature in America.

On the evening of November 18, the National Book Foundation awarded The Literarian Award to Dave Eggers, author, editor, journalist, publisher, screenwriter, and co-founder of 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth. Eggers’ first book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He has since written a number of books including the You Shall Know Our Velocity (2002) and the novel What is the What (2006), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. In addition to writing, Eggers co-founded McSweeney’s (, an independent publishing house that publishes two print magazines, Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern (since 1998), The Believer (since 2003), Wholphin (since 2005), a short-film DVD quarterly, and a daily humor website.

Eggers photo credit: Michelle Quint

Dave Eggers was born in Boston, Massachusetts, grew up in suburban Lake Forest, Illinois, and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduating with a degree in journalism. His literary career began as a editor and since then he has written fiction, nonfiction, and has edited anthologies including the annual series The Best American Nonrequired Reading (

He co-wrote the screenplay Away We Go with his wife, Vendela Vida, which was released by Focus Features in 2009. In 2007 he completed Max at Sea, a novel adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, the storybook authored by Maurice Sendak. Eggers also co-wrote the screenplay ofWhere the Wild Things Are with Spike Jonze, which will premier in October of this year. His most recent book is Zeitoun (2009).

As a literary social entrepreneur, Eggers co-founded with Nínive Calegari 826 Valencia (, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Since 2002, local communities have opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Seattle, and Boston. In 2004, Eggers co-founded Voice of Witness (, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. Eggers is the co-founder of the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation (, which is improving educational opportunities for Sudanese children in Sudan and the United States.



Heinz Prize, 2007

TED Prize, 2008