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Zeitoun Paperback – 24 Feb 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (24 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141046813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141046815
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Eggers uses Zeitoun's eyes to report on America's reasonless post-Katrina world. Reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's documentaries, this is a true story told with the skills of a master of fiction. Immensely readable (Independent)

Masterly. Brilliantly crafted, powerfully written and deftly reported (Guardian)

The shocking tale of a true New Orleans hero. This is narrative non-fiction at its very, very best (Herald)

Shocking (The Times)

Extraordinary, gripping (Daily Telegraph)

Terrifying (Observer)

Riveting (Vanity Fair)

From the Inside Flap

"This is a beautiful book. "Zeitoun" is a poignant, haunting, ethereal story about New Orleans in peril. Eggers has bottled up the feeling of post- Katrina despair better than anyone else. This is a simple story with a lingering
radiance. My admiration for the humanist spirit of Eggers knows no bounds."
-- Douglas Brinkley, author of "The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast"
""Zeitoun" is an American epic. The post-Katrina trials of Abdulrahman
Zeitoun would have baffled even Kafka's Joseph K. Though Zeitoun's story could have been a source of cynicism or despair, Dave Eggers's clear and elegant prose manages to deftly capture many of the signature shortcomings of American life while holding onto the innate optimism and endless drive to more closely match our ideals that Zeitoun and his adopted land share. Juggling these contradictions, Eggers captures the puzzle of America." -- Billy Sothern, author of "Down in New Orleans"
""Zeitoun" is a gripping and amazing story that highlights so much about the tragedy of Katrina, post-9/11 life for Arabs and Muslims, and the beautiful nature of American multi-cultural society."
-- Yousef Munayyer, policy analyst, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
""Zeitoun" is an instant American classic carved from fierce eloquence and a haunting moral sensibility. By wrestling with the demons of xenophobia and racial profiling that converged in the swirling vortex of Hurricane Katrina and post-9/11 America, Eggers lets loose the angels of wisdom and courage that hover over the lives of the beleaguered, but miraculously unbroken, Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun. This is a major work full of fire and wit by one of our most important writers."
-- Michael Eric Dyson, author of "Come Hell or High Water" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER on 25 Mar. 2010
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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By Nick Brett TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 April 2010
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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