Dave Eggers "Veering Between Catatonic and Hyper" After Newbery Win

Dave Eggers thought that maybe The Eyes and the Impossible was too weird for the world. Now it is the 2024 Newbery Medal winner.

Photo by Brecht Van Maele


When Dave Eggers completed The Eyes and the Impossible, it looked exactly as he imagined. The years-long process wrapped up without compromise. But despite that gratifying success, Eggers just wasn’t sure how this novel—narrated by a dog who lives in a park, runs faster than the eye can see, and has big responsibilities—would be received.

“When I finished it, I thought, I don't know, this is so strange in so many ways,” said Eggers. “It either really works or it is just too weird for the world.”

Thanks to the Newbery committee, Eggers need not wonder anymore. It works extremely well. The Eyes and the Impossible won the 2024 Newbery Medal, announced Monday at the Youth Media Awards in Baltimore.

“I've been sort of veering between catatonic and hyper. I haven't slept a lot,” Eggers said after Monday’s announcement.

He received the call Sunday night at about 7:30 p.m. California time.

“My family and I just kind of danced around the house for the next couple of hours,” he said. “We didn't know what to do with ourselves. You feel like you need to go run up a mountain or something. This means the world to me.”

The company he now keeps is particularly meaningful.

“The list of authors and books that the Newbery has honored is just absolutely stunning,” Eggers said. He and his teenage children went through the list after he learned his name would be added.

“They would just talk about how many times they read every one of those books that had been honored,” said Eggers. “Their eyes light up thinking about New Kid, or about Kate DiCamillo’s books, or Bud, Not Buddy—all of these books that meant so much to them growing up. It's absolutely surreal to have Eyes listed among those.”

The birth of his book can be traced back more than two decades, to a short story Eggers wrote from a dog’s point of view.

“I'd never had more fun writing before or since, really, and so I always wanted to get back to that voice and that sort of untethered way of writing,” he said.

He started working on the book five or six years ago. Starting, stopping, returning to it cold months later, as he likes to do. About four years ago, he realized it could be something real, and that was when illustrator Shawn Harris got involved in the project. Eggers credits the team at Knopf for giving the creators so much freedom and “accepting our most eccentric ideas.”

When it all came together, it was exactly as Eggers hoped. Earning the shiny gold sticker and joining the Newbery canon are honors he does not take lightly.

“The impact that books have on young minds and that they had on me is so profound,” he said. “I've always thought there was no greater honor than to be read willingly by a young reader.… Then to have librarians recognize the value of a book—I grew up with librarians. My best friend's mom was our middle school librarian. My other close friend's mom was the main librarian at our local library. [Librarians'] opinion is really something that means the world to me. So that's why I'm still catatonic.”

While they travel through the pages of the book, he would like readers to feel as Johannes does.

“I’m hoping it's read with the same exultant spirit that Johannes sees the world,” he said. “I'm hoping that readers of any age feel welcome to this story [and] that they can revel in Johannes’ exultation for the world and art, in its inherent strangeness, and the joy of speed, and living in the natural world.”

Eggers isn't looking to impart any specific lessons to readers. He knows everyone responds to a book in their own way, and that makes him happy.

“My favorite thing is meeting 100 readers and getting 100 different reactions.”

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