Eggers's brother Bill is a researcher who has worked for several conservative think tanks, doing research on privatization. His sister, Beth, claimed that Eggers grossly understated her role in raising their brother Toph and made use of her journals in writing A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius without compensating her. She later recanted her claims in a posting on her brother's own website McSweeney's Internet Tendency, referring to the incident as "a really terrible LaToya Jackson moment". On March 1, 2002, the New York Post reported that Beth, then a lawyer in Modesto, California, had committed suicide. Eggers briefly spoke about his sister's death during a 2002 fan interview for McSweeney's.
Eggers was one of three 2008 TED Prize recipients. His TED Prize wish: for community members to personally engage with local public schools.
In 2002, Eggers published his first novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity, a story about a frustrating attempt to give away money to deserving people while haphazardly traveling the globe. An expanded and revised version was released as Sacrament in 2003 and retitled You Shall Know Our Velocity! for its Vintage imprint distribution. He has since published a collection of short stories, How We Are Hungry, and three politically-themed serials for Salon.com. In November 2005, Eggers published Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated, compiling the book of interviews with exonerees once sentenced to death. The book was compiled with Lola Vollen, "a physician specializing in the aftermath of large-scale human rights abuses" and "a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley's Institute of International Studies and a practicing clinician. Novelist Scott Turow wrote the introduction to Surviving Justice. Eggers's most recent novel, What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (McSweeney's, 2006), was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Eggers is also the editor of the Best American Nonrequired Reading series, an annual anthology of short stories, essays, journalism, satire, and alternative comics.
Eggers is the founder of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house. McSweeney's produces a quarterly literary journal, McSweeney's, first published in 1998; a monthly journal, The Believer, which debuted in 2003 and is edited by wife Vida; and, beginning in 2005, a quarterly DVD magazine, Wholphin. Other works include The Future Dictionary of America, Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans, and the "Dr. and Mr. Haggis-On-Whey" children's books of literary nonsense, which Eggers writes with his younger brother. Ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Eggers wrote an essay about the US national team and soccer in the United States for The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, a book published with aid of the journal Granta, that contained essays about each competing team in the tournament.
Eggers currently teaches writing in San Francisco at 826 Valencia, a nonprofit tutoring center and writing school for children that he cofounded in 2002. Eggers has recruited volunteers to operate similar programs in Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, all under the auspices of the nonprofit organization 826 National. In 2006, he appeared at a series of fundraising events, dubbed the Revenge of the Book–Eaters tour, to support these programs. The Chicago show, at the Park West theatre, featured Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard. Other performers on the tour included Sufjan Stevens, Jon Stewart, Davy Rothbart, and David Byrne. In September 2007, the Heinz Foundations awarded Eggers a $250,000 Heinz award given to recognize "extraordinary achievements by individuals." In accordance with Eggers's wishes, the award money was all given to 826 National.
Eggers was one of the original contributors to ESPN The Magazine and helped create its section titled "The Jump". He acted as the first "Answer Guy", a column that still runs, without his involvement, in the publication.