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)
This book opened my eyes to what the government is really like. All Americans take note. This could happen to you In my eyes, this man was a hero. I hope he is doing well.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson
Great book! I suppose one reason I say that is because I usually don't find myself drawn to non-fiction; it's just not compelling reading in general. HOWEVER, this book reads like a novel. I think it's in the category called "creative non-fiction." So the power of the story combined with the fact that it's TRUE make it a knock out. Another thing that makes the story so powerful is the way Eggers builds suspense. It starts in the beginning, but also there is a switch that takes place about half way through the book, and then the suspense and the drama really take off!! I also like the way the book makes such a powerful statement about parts of our country, but it does it through telling the story of ONE FAMILY. It is such a human, not a political, story, and that made all the difference for me. I previously read Eggers memoir and didn't like it, so I was pleasantly surprised with this one!
I am half way into this book. The author does a great job in getting you sucked into the story and really caring about the characters. I listened to this book based on the rave reviews from fellow listeners. I feel like i lived through this dramatic event with the protagonist. A gifted writer. A talented reader also gives a great layer and depth to the text adding to the enjoyment. 60 minutes will go by at a clip and it feels more like 15. Great job. Post 9-11, this is a great reminder that we were all once foreigners and that we are all Americans, and though most of us did not grow up in Syria, we are all able to identify with the fears and aspirations of the main charachters.
If you walk into this book expecting a novel, expect to be disappointed. A previous reviewer referred to a lack of 'heroism' -- they might be wrong, in that Zeutoun himself showed a kind of foolhardy heroism -- but he misses the point. If, on the other hand, you would find a deep slice into a period of American life and political history, in what is basically a great piece of JOURNALISM, then you'll be very happy. It does walk the line with being a nonfiction novel sometimes (esp. with Zeitoun's dreams and the flashbacks to his eldest brother) but it lacks the kind of satisfying climax/denoument that novel readers might expect. I, for one, loved this book. It was a compelling look at real people living through two extraordinary tragedies. I with the Zeitouns well, wherever they are, they sound like great people.
non fiction story. The narration could have been a lot better, but worked. The ending gave a provided thought excellent thoughts to summarize the events.
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
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.
A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air
Zeitoun is our community's One Book, One Community selection, and it's easy to see why it was chosen. It has very interesting characters, a gripping story and it's true - depicting terrible injustices committed by our government against some of the victims of Hurrican Katrina.
Since the book was selected and promoted for community wide reading and discussion, Zeitoun himself has now found himself charged with attempting to hire others to murder his wife.
Dave Eggers' book takes care to paint Zeitoun as a man who is very concerned with doing the right thing for others, and doing what God would want him to do as a devout Muslim. Of course, none of that is in keeping with the charges he now faces. Zeitoun was a troubling book that left me with many unanswered questions.
Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.
NB: The main character lives through this ordeal, fathers a son, and rebuilds in New Orleans. I began listening thinking that he would never be found or would be found dead. The suffering of his wife and family is immense. I love biography and even if the story is shocking or unpleasant, I can at least read about what someone else has lived through. ... I have admired Muslim people from a distance -- a mixed-race American couple selling beside me at the Berkeley flea market. I watched them pray, nurse the baby, greet one another. An Afghan gentleman with a doctorate from Oxford selling hotdogs at the same flea market. I loved hearing about Zeitoun's wonderful family, the American-born wife who converted on her own, the hard-working husband and his observations of his situation. I had watched the Katrina aftermath on "Democracy Now!" and had no illusions about what I call the armpit of the country -- or the Bush administration. I had been stationed in Biloxi with the USAF. I had a prowler one night at my little garage apartment downtown. When I called the police, then I really did have a problem. I entered a contest to name a business; the owner's daughter won the contest! Four decades later, I am waiting to hear on a veteran claim that has been dogged at every level over 8 years by incompetence, corruption, carelessness, etc. Kathy was so brave to call CNN! What a woman! As for the production, the reading is perfectly understandable, top-notch. Eggers seems to stay in the background, simply telling the story. There is no need to comment that the whole business is an outrage. . . . As a young girl touring Europe, I visited the concentration camp in Dachau. It made me sick, and I closed my eyes and prayed that no one person ever get that much power again. . . . This story has helped me understand and love Muslim Americans better and has also put my own small difficulty in perspective. God bless this sweet family and give them many years of joy together!
Wow - this book blew my mind, and opened my eyes. It revealed to me the barely hidden prejudices of ordinary people. Here was the excuse to give authorities the apparent right to take away human dignity and basic human rights. Imagine what we would have to say if this happened in the middle east? A reminder to never stand by when you see injustice. Question everything!
"Interesting and horrifying"
This is a good book, which tells the terrible story of how this poor man was treated by the US authorities. It is also a rather telling account of how said authorities dealt with the aftermath of Katrina. It was mostly a good read, but it left me annoyed, frustrated and quite horrified.
"Author of misfortune"
Although I am by no means a supporter of the George W Bush administration, a natural lefty and, in American terms, a Democrat - this supposed frontal assault on red-neck, jingoistic, Republicanism literally in the wake of Hurricane Katrina seems to end up scoring more own goals than home runs. Despite repeated instructions on the part of the authorities to leave New Orleans the supposed ‘hero‘ of the book chose of his own free will to stay in town and look after his property. Those ‘oppressing‘ Police, National Guards and Civil Authorities were then obliged to put their own lives in peril by being obliged to go into the city to effect ‘rescues,‘ in the process running the risk of natural dangers and those from the albeit very small number of criminals who used the opportunity to loot their way through the wreckage. His wife in the meantime, faced with the fact that while she chooses to make a visible and daily symbol of her devotion to an all-loving God but cannot stand to be in the same house as her mother and immediate family even for a few days in a time of crisis, decamps over 1,000 miles away.At worst American society can display all that is deplorable in human nature - racism, paranoia and a total disregard for personal liberty when it gets in the way of the perceived ‘greater good.’ Here, however, a total disregard for the safety of others, the needs of the wider family members, a delusion of persecution and unwarranted self-importance are all on display and, unfortunately, whilst one finger points forward, there are three fingers pointing back to the accuser.
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