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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

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (780 )
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4.1 (370 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 07-22-12
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 07-22-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    mamasunset California Central Coast 04-24-11
    mamasunset California Central Coast 04-24-11
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    "What?"

    This is obviously a book for the USA haters; good job on that. What has the main character being a Muslim have to do with Katrina? I don't appreciate being hit over the head with a sledge hammer.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 10-01-14
    Tim United States 10-01-14 Member Since 2010

    I use my left foot to type my reviews.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dripping Paint"

    I have no heart. I couldn't stand this book. Dave Eggers is not an engaging writer. When he writes, he cannot stay focus. It was very frustrating to read because one minute he tell us something that really matters and the next, he goes onto something else. Very ADD style of writing. He cannot complete a sentence

    "Zeitoun" was not compelling story for me to read. Again, I am heartless. I wanted to know about the storm and the government failure, but all I got was about a Syrian contractor in New Orleans. Listening to this story was almost like watching paint dry on a humid, hot day. The paint never fully dries because of the humidity. Much like the wet paint, Zeitoun's story just drips and get blotchy.

    I was interested in reading Dave Eggers most recent book, but I'm canceling that order. He can't write in a straight line. Someone else should had wrote about Zeitoun. I can't handle human interest stories because they all follow the same pattern and this author is 100% a bad writer in my mind.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 08-21-14
    CHESTER LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 08-21-14 Member Since 2007

    Chet Yarbrough, an audio book addict, exercises two cocker spaniels twice a day with an Ipod in his pocket and earbuds in his ears. Hope these few reviews seduce the public into a similar obsession but walk safely and be aware of the unaware.

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    "ZEITOUN"

    “Zeitoun” is a return to Katrina. It reminds one of the horror, the destruction, and the ineptitude of government. It is also a story about injustice and prejudice in America. Dave Eggers tells a story that speaks to America’s conscience—its idealism, and its reality.

    Zeitoun’s life in America had been a fulfillment of the American Dream but the dream became a nightmare because of Katrina and America’s bureaucratic response to disaster. Prejudice rises as control of nature declines. Because Zeitoun is unknown to his captors, the color of his skin became more important than who he is or what he does. He became “other” rather than “one of us”. He was no longer an American to his captors; i.e. he was a “Syrian terrorist”, a “Muslim cultist”, an “Other”.

    Listening to a Zeitoun’ interview in August of 2010, one believes Zeitoun still believes in the American Dream. However, in August of 2012, Zeitoun is arrested for battery and accused of contracting to have his now ex-wife, Kathy, murdered. One wonders if the trauma of the Katrina disaster is to blame for the destruction of his marriage and his spiral into spousal abuse. Tragedy seems to be following Zeitoun like Katrina’s hurricane with rising water that may still consume him.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SarahElizabeth 06-21-13
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    "Great Story, Annoying Narrator"
    What did you like best about Zeitoun? What did you like least?

    I loved the story. I had only been in the US a year when Katrina hit and still in high school. The extent of the damage as well as the breakdown of the society was incomprehensible at the time. This book gave me more insight in the time it took to listen to the book than all of the news reports combined. I really enjoyed the book.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The narrator could have pronounced the "s" in all of the plurals. I'm not one to be nit picky about narration but it was seriously annoying. Also, the Arabic terms could have been pronounced a lot better. I understand that he might have been trying to Americanize the words to make sure all readers understood what he was saying, but it took away from the book.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Yes, and from my understanding, there will be a movie.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Somers, CT, USA 03-11-13
    John Somers, CT, USA 03-11-13 Member Since 2002
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    "A ground view of Hurricane Katrina"

    Hurricanes and other natural disasters are often designated 'Acts of God" by insurance and other authorities... but how those authorities and victims react is very much driven by people. Zeitoun is a victim of Hurricane Katrina, and he decides do what he can to alleviate the suffering of other victims since he is strong and has some resources. So he sends his family away to safety and proceeds to paddle around in his canoe to check up on things. He finds that not all of those who are helping, including first responders, are doing much helping. He becomes victimized a 2nd time at the hands of "Authority" as he is accused of looting.

    It's a fascinating story, told from the vantage point of someone who was there, lived through it, and suffered the consequences. Did the experience change him and those around him? How could it not? Read it and find out how. And maybe you will be motivated to voluntary community services.

    Nicely written, well read. It was a spellbinding story, the story of Hurricane Katrina that the media missed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauren 03-01-13
    Lauren 03-01-13 Member Since 2012
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    "What an Incredible Story…"
    If you could sum up Zeitoun in three words, what would they be?

    Inspiring. Shocking. Moving.


    What other book might you compare Zeitoun to and why?

    I'm not sure that I have read a book that would be a good comparison. I'll have to think about that...


    Have you listened to any of Firdous Bamji’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't, but would be interested.


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

    Not so much a moment, but the pure determination of Zeitoun's wife throughout the entire ordeal.


    Any additional comments?

    I was shocked to learn that this happened in our country in the very recent past. I have also read about what has since happened to Zeitoun and it is very upsetting. You have to wonder how much his situation after Katrina played into the broken life he finds himself in now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Crockett, CA, United States 02-10-13
    Linda Crockett, CA, United States 02-10-13 Member Since 2010
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    "One of the best books I have listened to"

    This was one of my favorite books. I have given it to many people. We all have heard so much about Katrina, this story puts a face to the events and adds the additional element of telling a us more about being Muslim in America. A must read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nan Concord, MA, United States 02-04-13
    Nan Concord, MA, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2001
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    "Starts slow, becomes a page turner"
    What did you love best about Zeitoun?

    The story starts out as a simple recounting of the the life of Zeitoun and his family/ I thought it was like reading a history book, not that interesting. But then it grabs you and doesn't let go.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Zeitoun?

    This book gives a damning account of how civil rights can be COMPLETELY ignored in this country when ignorant, thoughtless people who don't care about their fellow human beings and can make their life total hell and don't care at all. It's incomprensible.


    Have you listened to any of Firdous Bamji’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    The performance was good


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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