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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

Critic Reviews

"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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  • Overall
  • Neil
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 07-05-10

Split Mind...

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.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Caryl
  • SPRING VALLEY, MN, United States
  • 03-31-10

Well written well balanced

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.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jonelle
  • Camp Hill, PA, United States
  • 12-14-12

Gripping True Story

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.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Couldn't Happen To A Nicer Guy!

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!

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Liz
  • Cammeray, NSW, Australia
  • 03-19-10


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!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful