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Zeitoun [Hardcover]

Dave Eggers
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Mar 2010
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, longtime New Orleans residents Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun are cast into unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water. Good Samaritan Abdulrahman has stayed on in the city, traversing its deeply flooded streets by canoe, feeding trapped dogs and rescuing survivors, as New Orleans becomes a disaster zone. But nothing could prepare him for the wholly unexpected nightmare that follows . . .

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton (15 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241144841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241144848
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 480,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books, including "Zeitoun," a nonfiction account a Syrian-American immigrant and his extraordinary experience during Hurricane Katrina and "What Is the What," a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in southern Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, run by Mr. Deng and dedicated to building secondary schools in southern Sudan. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine ("The Believer"), and "Wholphin," a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries. In 2002, with Nínive Calegari he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Seattle, and Boston. In 2004, Eggers taught at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and there, with Dr. Lola Vollen, he co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. A native of Chicago, Eggers graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

Product Description

Review

"Imagine Charles Dickens, his sentimentality in check but his journalistic eyes wide open, roaming New Orleans after it was buried by Hurricane Katrina. . . . Eggers' tone is pitch-perfect--suspense blended with just enough information to stoke reader outrage and what is likely to be a typical response: How could this happen in America? . . . It's the stuff of great narrative nonfiction. . . . Fifty years from now, when people want to know what happened to this once-great city during a shameful episode of our history, they will still be talking about a family named Zeitoun." --Timothy Egan, "The New York Times Book Review" "[A] heartfelt book, so fierce in its fury, so beautiful in its richly nuanced, compassionate telling of an American tragedy, and finally, so sweetly, stubbornly hopeful." --"The Times-Picayune "(New Orleans) "Zeitoun is a riveting, intimate, wide-scanning, disturbing, inspiring nonfiction account of a New Orleans married couple named Abdulrahman and K

About the Author

Dave Eggers is the author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity, How We Are Hungry, What is the What and The Wild Things. In 2004 he started the Voice of Witness, a series of books that use oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
107 of 110 people found the following review helpful
By Red on Black TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After watching Newsnight review the other evening where the irritatingly self satisfied and smug reviewer panned this book I felt compelled to write a review. In total ignorance of the author Dave Eggers I bought this book in New York at Christmas where it had generated real controversy. The impact of the New Orleans floods has a strange and compelling fascination not least of all in terms of wider climate change impacts (let's not even go near that controversy!) but also the incompetent reaction of the Bush administration and its treatment of the US black "underclass".

I have subsequently read in addition the tragically hysterical "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" which was superb and will be guided by other Amazon readers on Mr Eggers other works? But let me add that "Zeitoun" is as far away from Eggers frantic debut as possible not only in the way the book is constructed but the style and sheer power of the writing.

This is a non fiction account of Abdulrahman Zeitoun an immigrant from Syria and his wife Kathy who in 2005 owned a successful house-painting business in New Orleans. When Katrina hits Abdulrahman stays behind to watch out for his property. Eggers was not present at the disaster but has essentially ghost written this book for the Zeitoun's. And what a story it is. There are no great rants against Bush or the incompetent New Orleans authorities. Eggers doesn't need to do this since the facts as presented are the most massive indictment in their own right and speak for themselves.

Without giving away the story what compounds this Kafka style nightmare for Abdulrahman Zeitoun is his Arab and Muslim heritage and the continuing rolling paranoia which still rumbled on from the aftermath of Al Qaeda's savage attack on the twin towers.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and gripping 25 Mar 2010
By Julia Flyte TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This amazing book is the true story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a successful Muslim building contractor living with his family in New Orleans when Cyclone Katrina hit. Zeitoun's wife Kathy left New Orleans with their children, but Zeitoun chose to stay behind and the book is about what happens to him in the weeks after Katrina strikes. The first half of the book is about the storm and his first week in the flooded city. Zeitoun paddles about in a canoe, helping others where he can. Then he disappears, and Eggers shifts to Kathy's point of view. From this point, the tension rapidly builds and the book becomes increasingly difficult to put down.

Post-Katrina, New Orleans was effectively a city under martial law, with the enforcers - many from outside the city - getting increasingly frenzied by media reports of looting, rape and murder. There's a quote at the start of the book that "to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail" - to them, every person looked like a looter, even an elderly woman retrieving a packet of sausages from her own car. The system was so screwed that they prioritised building a temporary prison ahead of feeding their citizens and providing them with essential services.

It's a very simply written but immensely readable book. Eggers tells us what people were thinking and how they were feeling, but largely resists passing judgement on the situation, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. I tore through it, feeling increasingly angry and disbelieving at what Zeitoun was going through and how this could be happening in a major US city in 2005. While the book is about a specific situation, it also gets you thinking about how easily things can spin out of control and how easy it is to be the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is an eye opening and important story, powerfully told.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing 14 April 2010
By Nick Brett TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This is the true and astonishing tale of a decent man caught up in a total breakdown of society. The fact that this happened recently and in the USA shows just how easy and quickly things can go bad.

The book is about Zeitoun, a Syrian born American and his experience in New Orleans at the time of hurricane Katrina. It takes the American dream (a hard working immigrant with a supportive and loving family doing well in the US) and then shows us just how badly a country can treat its own people when things go wrong. And the levels of just how wrong things got are almost unbelievable.
As Katrina approaches New Orleans, Zeitoun evacuates his family but decides to stay to look after his property and business. As the floods come he finds himself in a canoe, paddling around the city helping rescue people, feeding abandoned pets and distributing food and water. Just the sort of person you would want as a neighbour or to help in a crisis.
After a few days things take an ugly turn when Zeitoun, along with three friends, is arrested for looting his own house and his own property. Put into a temporary prison, allowed little food, no external contact or legal representation Zeitoun is swept up in the paranoia and administrative mess that was post Katrina New Orleans. He and other innocent individuals were all held for considerable periods of time before being released with no charges, and the tales of what was done are horrific, the elderly diabetic lady locked up for getting food from her own car, people arrested and having all their money 'vanish' during their processing, all incredible.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars arrived as stated as its a gift can't review the
arrived as stated as its a gift can't review the book
Published 2 days ago by Mrs.P.Mellor
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT
AN AMAZING STORY
Published 1 month ago by jose logue
3.0 out of 5 stars The last time I will read an Eggers book
This may possibly be the last time I read a Dave Eggers book, for while the story he tells is an interesting one that needs to be told, the way he tells it is patronising,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ian Shine
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastically interesting.
Never knew, until reading this book, of the truly appalling way the authorities handled things post Katrina. A truly disturbing insight. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Paula Letch
3.0 out of 5 stars Insite
Slow start but really starts to flow into a picture of the reaction after the storm. Shocking but not surprising.
Published 6 months ago by ramon
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable account!
A must-read account of the days leading up to and post Hurricane "Katrina" from the perspective of Syrian born Abdul Zeitoun. The force of nature versus human oppression. Read more
Published 7 months ago by didunn1
1.0 out of 5 stars Review of sample
The sample contained so many endorsements there was hardly any of the actual book included in it. There was so little to go on that I could not judge whether I would be interested... Read more
Published 8 months ago by mary
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional literary journalism.
This is much more than an account of Hurricane Katrina. Racism, religion, human rights, family, love, loss - all the big themes are right here!
Published 11 months ago by Steph
4.0 out of 5 stars zeitoun by dave eggers
I had doubts about this book before I read it. I was wrong it was a very good read, and showed some insight into the Muslim faith, and dispelled much of the anti feeling shown by... Read more
Published 12 months ago by david
4.0 out of 5 stars The shock doctrine in action
Very understated book about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on one Syrian-American man and his family, and touching on the Muslim-American relations, the nature of human kindness,... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Jezza
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