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
"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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
JMM in CA
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.
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.
The book seemed fictional and at times truly unbelievable. Given that its a book of reflection of the Zeitouns encounters it would help if there were other sources of information to confirm these accounts. Also it would've been more interesting if the book progressed quicker. At some points the book really dragged and made you actually not care about the upcoming tragedy. And even after the the storm and him staying, the book dragged through his time away from his family. And the long reveal for the outcome with his cell mates, and jumping back and forth towards the end between present and past... It couldve been edited better.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
“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.
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.
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.
Yes, and from my understanding, there will be a movie.
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.
Inspiring. Shocking. Moving.
I'm not sure that I have read a book that would be a good comparison. I'll have to think about that...
I haven't, but would be interested.
Not so much a moment, but the pure determination of Zeitoun's wife throughout the entire ordeal.
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.
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.
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