As part of the “Unbound: A Book Launch Series with BAM and Greenlight Bookstore,” author Dave Eggers will be in conversation with the remarkable man who inspired his latest book, “The Monk of Mokha,” at his book launch event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on Feb. 11.
“The Monk of Mokha” is inspired by a San Francisco Bay Area-raised Yemeni-American man named Mokhtar Alkhanshali. Alkhanshali is a historian,
community organizer and coffee innovator who envisions a world where industry empowers rather than exploits, uplifts rather than represses. Following his studies, he worked with the American Civil Liberties Union and Asian Law Caucus, and has worked to resurrect the ancient art of Yemeni coffee.
In the book, 24-year-old Alkhanshali finds himself working as a doorman. He is unable to pay for college when he becomes fascinated with his family’s roots in coffee farming, and travels to Yemen and visits countless farms, eager to bring improved cultivation methods to the countryside. Just as he is on the verge of success, civil war engulfs the country — the U.S. Embassy closes, Saudi bombs rain down and he is trapped in Sana’a, desperate to escape. The book traces Alkhanshali’s journey as a social entrepreneur and his harrowing escape from war-torn Yemen with his first coffee samples. When war engulfs the country, he has to find a way out of Yemen without sacrificing his dreams or abandoning his people.
Eggers is the founder of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house in San Francisco. McSweeney’s publishes “Voice of Witness,” a nonprofit
book series that uses oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. In 2002, he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit youth writing and tutoring center in San Francisco’s Mission District. Eggers’ work has been nominated for the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, among many other awards. His novels include “The Circle,” “A Hologram for the King” and “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.”