Nobody could blame you for thinking that the Circle in Dave Eggers’ new novel is just another name for Google – or Apple, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It’s not, Eggers claims – though that’s all but impossible to believe, given the similarities. Instead, the Circle is a mega-corporation that has, in the near-future world of The Circle, devoured all of the above – it is not one of these companies, but all of them. And, through this corporate consumption, the Circle has gobbled up all of us, along with its competitors.
The Circle follows 24-year-old Mae Holland, a graduate of Minnesota’s elite Carleton College, who lands a job at the “most influential company in the world” thanks to her old roommate and friend, Annie – an influential Circler in the company’s elite “Gang of 40”. Mae’s career at the Circle starts in the lowly Customer Experience department, where she is tasked with answering advertiser queries. Customers grade Mae and her co-workers in “CE” in real-time, on a scale of 1 to 100, and these scores are public throughout the Circle. To the delight of all 12,000 Circlers, Mae ends her first day in CE with a 97 – a record for a newbie.