Reading Group Center

Dave Eggers’s The Circle Is a Critical Hit

That reviewers have raved about Dave Eggers’s latest bestselling novel The Circle, new in paperback from Vintage, comes as no surprise. Eggers’s tale about a Big Brother–like Internet giant is a timely reminder of the threat technology poses to individual privacy and society as a whole.

In the novel, doe-eyed Mae Holland embarks on what seems like a promising career at the world’s most powerful tech company, the Circle, but soon her role becomes public in alarming ways—invading all aspects of her life. What follows is a heart-racing story that measures up to George Orwell’s classic 1984.

The prescience and originality of The Circle has been noted by the critics:

“A parable about the perils of life in a digital age in which our personal data is increasingly collected, sifted and monetized. . . . Eggers reminds us how digital utopianism can lead to the datafication of our daily lives, how a belief in the wisdom of the crowd can lead to mob rule, how the embrace of ‘the hive mind’ can lead to a diminution of the individual.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“A vivid, roaring dissent to the companies that have coaxed us to disgorge every thought and action onto the Web. . . . Carries the potential to change how the world views its addicted, compliant thrall to all things digital. If you work in Silicon Valley, or just care about what goes on there, you need to pay attention.”
—Dennis K. Berman, The Wall Street Journal

“Fascinating. . . . [A] novel of ideas . . . about the social construction and deconstruction of privacy, and about the increasing corporate ownership of privacy, and about the effects such ownership may have on the nature of Western democracy.”
—Margaret Atwood, The New York Review of Books

“The particular charm and power of Eggers’s book . . . could be described as ‘topical’ or ‘timely,’ though those pedestrian words do not nearly capture its imaginative vision.”
—Hugo Lindgren, The New York Times Magazine

“Eggers is a literary polymath. . . . The Circle is funny in its skewering of Internet culture.”
—Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times

“The crux of The Circle is that Big Brother is still haunting us, but in an incarnation that’s both more genial and more insidious. We have met Big Brother, and he is us.”
—Lev Grossman, Time

As you can tell, The Circle is more than an excellent choice for reading groups and lovers of sophisticated dystopian narratives—and may be a sign that it’s time for you to rethink your online habits? Read an excerpt now and use our reading group guide to enhance your discussion of the novel.