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The Circle
Cover of The Circle
The Circle
Soon to be a Major Motion Picture, The Circle is the exhilarating novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of Heroes of the Frontier.

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company's modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can't believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman's ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.
From the Hardcover edition.
Soon to be a Major Motion Picture, The Circle is the exhilarating novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of Heroes of the Frontier.

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company's modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can't believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman's ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.
From the Hardcover edition.
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  • From the book

    My god, Mae thought. It's heaven.

    The campus was vast and rambling, wild with Pacific color, and yet the smallest detail had been carefully considered, shaped by the most eloquent hands. On land that had once been a shipyard, then a ­drive-­in movie theater, then a flea market, then blight, there were now soft green hills and a Calatrava fountain. And a picnic area, with tables arranged in concentric circles. And tennis courts, clay and grass. And a volleyball court, where tiny children from the company's daycare center were running, squealing, weaving like water. Amid all this was a workplace, too, four hundred acres of brushed steel and glass on the headquarters of the most influential company in the world. The sky above was spotless and blue.

    Mae was making her way through all of this, walking from the parking lot to the main hall, trying to look as if she belonged. The walkway wound around lemon and orange trees and its quiet red cobblestones were replaced, occasionally, by tiles with imploring messages of inspiration. "Dream," one said, the word ­laser-­cut into the red stone. "Participate," said another. There were dozens: "Find Community." "Innovate." "Imagine." She just missed stepping on the hand of a young man in a grey jumpsuit; he was installing a new stone that said "Breathe."

    On a sunny Monday in June, Mae stopped in front of the main door, standing below the logo etched into the glass above. Though the company was less than six years old, its name and ­logo—­a circle surrounding a knitted grid, with a small 'c' in the ­center—­were already among the ­best-­known in the world. There were more than ten thousand employees on this, the main campus, but the Circle had offices all over the globe, and was hiring hundreds of gifted young minds every week. It had been voted the world's most admired company four years running.

    Mae ­wouldn't have thought she had a chance to work at such a place, but for Annie. Annie was two years older and they'd roomed together for three semesters in college, in an ugly building made habitable through their extraordinary bond, something like friends, something like sisters or cousins who wished they were siblings and would have reason never to be apart. Their first month living together, Mae had broken her jaw one twilight, after fainting, ­flu-­ridden and underfed, during finals. Annie had told her to stay in bed, but Mae had gone to the ­7-­Eleven for caffeine and woke up on the sidewalk, under a tree. Annie took her to the hospital, and waited as they wired her jaw, and then stayed with Mae, sleeping next to her, in a wooden chair, all night, and then at home, for days, had fed Mae through a straw. It was a fierce level of commitment and competence that Mae had never seen from someone her age or near her age, and Mae was thereafter loyal in a way she'd never known she could be.

    While Mae was still at Carleton, meandering between majors, from art history to marketing to ­psychology—­getting her degree in psych with no plans to go further in the ­field—­Annie had graduated, gotten her MBA from Stanford and was recruited everywhere, but particularly at the Circle, and had landed here days after graduation. Now she had some lofty ­title—­Director of Ensuring the Future, Annie ­joked—­and had urged Mae to apply for a job. Mae did so, and though Annie insisted she pulled no strings, Mae was sure that Annie had, and she felt indebted beyond all measure. A million people, a billion, wanted to be where Mae was at this moment, entering this atrium, thirty feet high and shot through...
About the Author-
  • Dave Eggers grew up near Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the founder of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern), and a monthly magazine, The Believer. 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 cofounded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit youth writing and tutoring center in San Francisco's Mission District. Sister centers have since opened in seven other American cities under the umbrella of 826 National, and like-minded centers have opened in Dublin, London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Birmingham, Alabama, among other locations. His work has been nominated for the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, France's Prix Médicis, Germany's Albatross Prize, the National Magazine Award, and the American Book Award. Eggers lives in Northern California with his family.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Eggers's novel begins with an almost giddy tone, re-created perfectly by narrator Dion Graham. Pulling every tool from his kit, Graham describes the inner workings of the world's largest Internet company as it develops a new identity operating system that will allow even easier access by users across different platforms. Graham gives Mae Holland the trill of a scratch-off winner who can't believe her luck when a friend helps her secure a position at the Circle. But--as the listener hears in Graham's increasingly horrified tone--this Google-like utopia quickly becomes a dystopia when Mae realizes what the Circle really has in mind. Listeners will be reminded of Orwell's 1984. R.O. (c) AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 16, 2013
    The latest offering from McSweeney's founder Eggers (A Hologram for the King) is a stunning work of terrifying plausibility, a cautionary tale of subversive power in the digital age suavely packaged as a Silicon Valley social satire. Set in the near future, it examines the inner workings of the Circle, an internet company that is both spiritual and literal successor to Facebook, Google, Twitter and more, as seen through the eyes of Mae Holland, a new hire who starts in customer service. As Mae is absorbed into the Circle's increasingly demanding multi- and social media experience, she plays an ever more pivotal role in the company's plans, which include preventing child abductions through microchips, reducing crime through omnipresent surveillance, and eliminating political corruption through transparency courtesy of personal cameras. Soon, she's not alone in asking what it will mean to "complete the Circle" as its ultimate goal comes into view; even her closest friends and family suspect the Circle is going too far in its desire to make the world a better, safer, more honest place. Eggers presents a Swiftian scenario so absurd in its logic and compelling in its motives that the worst thing possible will be for people to miss the joke. The plot moves at a casual, yet inexorable pace, sneaking up on the reader before delivering its warnings of the future, a worthy and entertaining read despite its slow burn. Agent: Andrew Wylie, The Wylie Agency.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 25, 2013
    When 20-something Mae Holland is recruited to work at the Circle, a sort of social network on steroids that consolidates its users’ various online identities (personal e-mail, social media, financial services), she’s thrilled at the company’s grand modernity and cutting-edge aesthetic. She delights in the Circle’s exuberance and the grand fetes it throws. But as her role in the company becomes increasingly public, she becomes increasingly wary of the Circle’s role in the lives of Americans. An encounter with Kalden, a shadowy figure who issues ominous pronouncements about the Circle’s contribution to a dystopia, further dampens Mae’s enthusiasm. Dion Graham provides inventive narration in this audio edition—capturing Mae’s breathless enthusiasm at landing the job. Graham also cleanly differentiates between characters, and provides them with simple but unique voices. Despite the longtime audio partnership between Graham and Eggers—the former read A Hologram for the King and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius—the narrator seems an odd choice for this title given its female protagonist. Graham has a deep, masculine voice—and at times it can be incongruous to hear him approximate the gasps and anxieties of a young woman. A Knopf hardcover.

  • Dennis K. Berman, The Wall Street Journal
    "
    "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."
  • Margaret Atwood, The New York Review of Books "Fascinating . . . Eggers appears to run on pure adrenaline, and has as many ideas pouring out of him as the entrepreneurs pitching their inventions in The Circle . . . [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 . . . Like Melville's Pequod and Stephen King's Overlook Hotel, the Circle is a combination of physical container, financial system, spiritual state, and dramatis personae, intended to represent America, or at least a powerful segment of it . . . The Circlers' social etiquette is as finely calibrated as anything in Jane Austen . . . Eggers treats his material with admirable inventiveness and gusto . . . the language ripples and morphs . . . It's an entertainment, but a challenging one."
  • Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "A parable about the perils of life in a digital age in which our personal data is increasingly collected, sifted and monetized, an age of surveillance and Big Data, in which privacy is obsolete, and Maoist collectivism is the order of the day. Using his fluent prose and instinctive storytelling gifts, Mr. Eggers does a nimble, and sometimes very funny, job of sending up technophiles' naïveté, self-interest and misguided idealism. As the artist and computer scientist Jaron Lanier has done in several groundbreaking nonfiction books, Mr. 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. The adventures of Mr. Eggers's heroine, Mae Holland, an ambitious new hire at the company, provide an object lesson in the dangers of drinking the Silicon Valley Kool-Aid and becoming a full-time digital ninja . . . Never less than entertaining . . . Eggers is such an engaging, tactile writer that the reader happily follows him wherever he's going . . . A fun and inventive read."
  • Hugo Lindgren, The New York Times Magazine "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 . . . Simply a great story, with a fascinating protagonist, sharply drawn supporting characters and an exciting, unpredictable plot . . . As scary as the story's implications will be to some readers, the reading experience is pure pleasure."
  • Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times "Eggers is a literary polymath . . . The Circle is funny in its skewering of Internet culture. Holland obsessively tallies the reach of her Twitter-like Zings and enthuses about a benefit for needy children that raises not money but 2.3 million 'smiles' (think Facebook 'likes'). The Circle's buildings are named for epochs, so at her first party Holland gets her wine from the Industrial Revolution . . . The ideas behind "The Circle" are compelling and deeply contemporary. Holland is an everywoman, a twentysomething believer in Internet culture untroubled by the massive centralization and monetization of information, ubiquitous video surveillance and corporate invasions of privacy. Compare that to A Hologram for the King, in which a middle-aged man thoughtfully but powerlessly observes America's economic decline, realizing that his efforts to participate in globalization led to his own obsolescence. The two books together are saying something foreboding about America's place in the world: We have traded making physical things for a glossy, meaningless online culture that leaves us vulnerable to those who see that information -- in the form of data, video feed
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