Dave Eggers and the Monk of Mokha discuss their thrilling new book
Can one person revitalize a country while sharing its history with the world? Mokhtar Alkhanshali is trying to do just that.
In his new book, The Monk of Mokha, Dave Eggers (author of The Circle and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) tells the true story of Alkhanshali’s journey to inspire coffee cultivation in Yemen.
It’s a thrilling work that documents an ambitious young man connecting with his ancestral country, along with his mastery of coffee production and the experience of being in Yemen during the outbreak of the Yemeni Civil War.
We had the absolute pleasure to welcome both Eggers and Alkhanshali on this week’s episode of the MashReads Podcast to discuss The Monk of Mohka, and Yemen’s future in coffee.
Alkhanshali was drifting through life in San Francisco, trying to find a way toward success, when random chance pointed him to coffee. Then he discovered that the epicenter of coffee culture was connected to his own roots.
With confidence, optimism, and a wish to give back to Yemen, he learned all he could about coffee — and went to find the farmers who could grow it for the world.
Eggers captures the story in compelling detail, as barrier after barrier comes up and is overcome by Alkhanshali.
It’s not only a book about coffee. It’s also about community, culture, and remembering your own history.
As always, we ended the interview with some recommendations:
– Dave Eggers recommended Jesmyn Ward’s 2017 National Book Award-winning novel Sing, Unburied, Sing, saying, “page after page, you’re reading a classic. You just know it.”
– Mokhtar Alkhanshali recommended Michelle Alexander’s best-selling book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. “That book really inspired me to do my work even more,” he said.
– MJ recommended “The Recipe for Life,” a short story by Michael Chabon that recently appeared in the New Yorker. “It is exceptionally beautiful. I was all up in my feelings reading it on the train.”
– Peter recommended The Paper Menagerie and other Stories. It’s great. Read it.