A Hologram for the King Novel by Dave Eggers Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'A Hologram for the King' is a novel by Dave Eggers about an American man facing a mid-life crisis exacerbated by the shifting global economy. This asset provides student discussion questions about this novel.

A Hologram for the King

Dave Eggers' A Hologram for the King is a 2012 National Book Award finalist by Dave Eggers that explores identity, modernization, and the economy through the story of Alan Clay, an American salesman in Saudi Arabia who is on the brink of financial ruin. The following questions may be used with high school students to discuss this novel.

Alan Clay

  • What is the setting of this novel? How does the setting influence the story? What is the purpose of Alan's trip to Saudi Arabia?
  • What does the scene with the woman in Nairobi reveal about Alan? What are some setbacks that Alan has experienced that influence his confidence? How does self-confidence affect your willingness to take chances?
  • How does Alan secure an opportunity to pitch a sale to the Saudi king? What part do you think luck plays in success? What are some other factors that influence a person's prospects? What are some things you can do to create opportunities for yourself?
  • What are some mistakes Alan makes when preparing for his meeting? What are some factors beyond Alan's control that threaten his success? How does Alan respond to his fear of failure? What would you do differently?


  • What are some health issues Alan faces? Why do you think he decides to investigate the lump on his neck on his own? What do you think of this strategy? What should Alan have done instead?
  • Describe Alan's relationship with Zahra. What are the challenges to their relationship? How does Zahra help Alan? Why do you think Alan trusts Zahra? How does Alan's trust in Zahra impact his willingness to seek medical attention?
  • Why do you think Alan writes letters to his daughter, but doesn't send them? How is Alan's relationship with his daughter similar and different from your relationship with your parents? How do you think Alan wishes their relationship was different? Explain your answer.

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