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Zeitoun | [Dave Eggers]

Zeitoun

When HurricaneKatrina struck New Orleans, Abdulrahman Zeitoun - a prosperous Syrian-American and father of four - chose to stay through the storm to protect his house and contracting business. In the eerie days after the storm, he traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and rescuing those he could. A week later, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared.
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Publisher's Summary

In his new nonfiction book Zeitoun, New York Times best-selling author Dave Eggers tells a Hurricane Katrina story unlike any written before.

When HurricaneKatrina struck New Orleans, Abdulrahman Zeitoun - a prosperous Syrian-American and father of four - chose to stay through the storm to protect his house and contracting business. In the eerie days after the storm, he traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and rescuing those he could. A week later, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared.

Eggers's riveting work, three years in the making, follows Zeitoun back to his childhood in Syria and around the world during his years as a sailor. The book also traces the story of Zeitoun's wife Kathy - a boisterous Southerner who converted to Islam - and their wonderful, funny, devoted family. When Zeitoun vanishes, Kathy is left to make sense of the surreal atmosphere (in New Orleans and the United States generally) in which what happened to Abdulrahman Zeitoun was possible.

©2009 Dave Eggers; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"Imagine Charles Dickens, his sentimentality in check but his journalistic eyes wide open, roaming New Orleans after it was buried by Hurricane Katrina ... Eggers's 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?" (Timothy Egan, The New York Times)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Naomi BRONX, NY, United States 02-19-12
    Naomi BRONX, NY, United States 02-19-12 Member Since 2009
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    "A postapocalyptic tale that is all too real"

    The is a true story of a man named Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his experiences when he stayed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Eggers wants to outrage us, and he succeeds by telling it straight, piling detail upon detail, and treating his protagonists--Zeitoun, his wife Kathy, their friends and family, and the people they encountered during this period--with respect and caring.

    The story is simple. Zeitoun, a Syrian Muslim who has immigrated to the US, settled in New Orleans, and built a successful and well-respected contracting business, chooses to stay in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina floods the city to watch over his property and do what he can to help other residents. His wife, Kathy, chooses to flee the city with their 4 children, but the 2 are able to keep in touch regularly until he suddenly disappears. The circumstances of his disappearance, the efforts of Kathy and Zeitoun's farflung but loving Syrian relatives to find out what happened to him, and the ultimate resolution are described in simple, unpretentious, but elegant prose -- and yes -- things like this are not supposed to happen in the USA.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Starlet SAN CARLOS, CA, United States 06-13-11
    Starlet SAN CARLOS, CA, United States 06-13-11 Member Since 2005

    100% of the books I read are in audible format. I enjoy reading apocalyptic, WWII, psychology, classics, contemporary and non-fiction.

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    "Great Story is all I can say"

    I just finished Zeitoun and I highly recommend it. I thought I had an idea of what their Katrina-related story was about -- I listened to an NPR program where he and his wife were the guest speakers and I listened to the NPR This American Life episode on the Katrina. aftermath...however prepared I thought I was -- and sort of dreaded listening, I did not know the extent of the Zeitoun's story. It is something else -- you can only say, "in America, this happened?" Out of context, one would think that the location was in a third world country...incredible, sad, but the Zeitoun’s have a story to tell and in the end, they are sanguine, still, about their future, about the United States. It is a family story, actually, and not that difficult to read -- it does pick up into the meatier more exciting material midway, but one needs to know about the family history to become connected -- sort of a must read, I think. I thought the narration was excellent, too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elinor MILWAUKIE, OR, United States 03-22-11
    Elinor MILWAUKIE, OR, United States 03-22-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Read it. Good Story, Boring Listen"

    I am 2/3 of the way through, and it so slow. So many of the details are unnecessary and repititious. If I read it, I would skim quickly past those parts, but you can't when you listen. Either listen to an abridged version or read this book. Warning: it will take forever if you listen! This is about the 80th book I have listened to and this is only the second time I wished it were abridged. The story is worthwhile, just not in this format.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shari River Forest, IL, United States 01-05-10
    Shari River Forest, IL, United States 01-05-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Excellent and unexpected"

    Excellent historic with very little fiction. Full of surprises and a unique view of a well publicised disaster.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Omaha, NE, USA 09-23-09
    David Omaha, NE, USA 09-23-09 Member Since 2001
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    "Eggers is a great storyteller"

    Dave Eggers knows how to tell a story. The story is compelling and thought provoking. This story confirms that old adage that the truth is stranger than fiction. The narration is spot on.

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    03-22-10
    03-22-10 Listener Since 2008
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    "Zeitoun"

    After reading this well written book- I experienced a change in my heart. It provided knowledge that I had forgotten and renewed my love for all of God's people.
    I had three good friends of the Moslem faith during my college days. I dated one young man studing to be a physician and he was a good friend. We never discussed religion because we knew we did not agree. We had fun and he was a good man.
    After 9-11 my heart changed and I felt a resentment toward the people I saw cheering in the streets on TV. The resentment suddenly spread to all people of the Moslem faith. The feelings were not hate but anger and a blaming this group of people for the events. I think many American feel this way and really do not realize that there are so many wonderful Moslem people in the USA that are a great asset to all of us. Just as we have American that do awful things, the same is true of all Religious groups.
    The Moslem people are good people that love and care for their families and for others.
    After reading this book I felt shame for my feelings and knew I was wrong in my judgements toward this Faith. It was healing to my soul and I highly encourage others to read this book. I am a better American and person.

    16 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chrissie Brussels, Belgium 05-27-13
    Chrissie Brussels, Belgium 05-27-13 Member Since 2011
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    "One family's experiences during Katrina"

    I do not think I am the one to judge this book. I am not an American. I am not a Muslim. I am not religious and lack the faith spoken of in this book. Furthermore, I do not think this book adequately looks at what happened before, during and after Katrina. It studies one family’s experiences, only that. Zeitoun disobeyed the mandatory evacuation order.

    Nothing wrong with the narration by Firdous Bamji.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 09-20-12
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 09-20-12 Member Since 2006

    My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.

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    "Kafka never had it this bad"

    Anyone who doubts that a police state is possible in America should read this book. All it takes is for something to be declared an emergency and civil rights go out the window. This book describes in detail the real life story of how the US Government destroyed the lives of the Zeitoun family. Nothing in Kafka compares to the faceless bureaucracy the Zeitouns had to fight. I am still waiting to hear the Government come forth with anything resembling an adequate apology. I am still waiting for the individuals responsible to bear any of the consequences for their actions. Sadly, as I write this, time has shown that the consequences for the Zeitouns ran much deeper than Mr. Eggers guessed at when he wrote this book. Abdulrahman Zeitoun has paid a terrible price for the way the US Government has treated him.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 07-22-12
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 07-22-12 Member Since 2007
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    "You Don't Know Everything about Katrina"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I am!!

    Boy if you ever wondered how you would fair after a weather adversity, you need to read this. It's a true story about how one ethnic family was treated in such adverse conditions. How the media fueled the flame to create a manic situation. It's written factual, not negative or seeking sympathy.

    When I first came across this, my first reaction was if I really needed to rehash it all again....yeah, I did.


    What other book might you compare Zeitoun to and why?

    I don't think I have read a book like it. It was scary truthful - not in a poor me manner. I have to say too that I was shocked how ignorant I was about the Muslim faith from reading this book.


    What does Firdous Bamji bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Obviously, pronouncing the foreign words. Because most of us not middle easterners can't say the words, we just skip over those groups of unfamiliar letters that we can not pronounce.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I don't want to say because I read a review of this book that told too much and ruined a piviotal part in this book for me....when Kathy wasn't getting an answer. I wish I had not read that review for I was right there with her.


    Any additional comments?

    Loved it. I am so shocked to read some reviews. This book was SO SO SO not boring. It is so so more than a story about Katrina. It's more about racism and ignorance and having too much trust in your govenment.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jill Micheau San Ramon, CA USA 02-27-10
    Jill Micheau San Ramon, CA USA 02-27-10 Member Since 2001

    JMM in CA

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    "I expected more from Dave..."

    I love Dave Eggers' stuff, but this was flat out boring. Chapter upon chapter of hand wringing and describing how Kathy waits for the phone to ring... Arghhh... I'm only finishing this listen out of apathy. Not recommended.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
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