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Zeitoun (2009)

by Dave Eggers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,6151712,459 (4.07)344
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, longtime New Orleans residents Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun are cast into an unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water. In the days after the storm, Abdulrahman traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could. A week later, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared-- arrested and accused of being an agent of al Qaeda.… (more)
  1. 60
    What Is the What by Dave Eggers (jmarsico)
  2. 10
    A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Neufeld's compelling graphic novel depicts the effects of Hurricane Katrina through the true stories of seven of the city's residents.
  3. 10
    1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina by Chris Rose (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: A columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Rose delves into the aftereffects of the storm on his adopted city in this compelling collection of essays.
  4. 21
    Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum (bdav1818)
  5. 10
    Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink (TooBusyReading)
    TooBusyReading: Both books are fascinating and heartbreaking looks at how much went wrong as Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
  6. 00
    Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Story of the hurricane in Galveston in 1900 resulting in unexpected and devastating flooding
  7. 00
    A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit (Othemts)
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    Proved Innocent by Gerry Conlon (Othemts)
  9. 00
    The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede (LynnB)
    LynnB: Story of ordinary people, like Mr. Zeitoun, who made a difference.
  10. 00
    The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast (Othemts)

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» See also 344 mentions

English (162)  Dutch (5)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (170)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
Zietoun (pronounced Zay-toon) and his wife Kathy lived in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. Zietoun ran a painting/consulting business. They had 4 kids at the time. Kathy evacuated with the kids and Zeitoun stayed behind to keep watch on his home, plus the rental properties that they owned. It wasn’t long before things got really bad for him, while Kathy couldn’t get ahold of him and had no idea what had happened...

This was really good. There were a few parts – mostly Zietoun’s background in Syria – that I kind of lost focus, but the rest of it was really good. I did see a sort-of “spoiler” when I was only part-way through that I wish I hadn’t seen, though it wasn’t specifically about the storyline. ( )
  LibraryCin | Sep 9, 2020 |
Before I read this book I heard some things about it, was advised to read it critically, not believe everything. Even so, as I read it I became completely absorbed by the story and had difficulty figuring out what I shouldn't believe. The story is about a man who goes by his last name, Zeitoun, who stayed in New Orleans through Hurricane Katrina, helping others, and who was detained in temporary cells for reasons that were unclear. The story emphasizes the problems with the post-9/11 security system that was in place at that time. According to Eggers, the incidents that could be cross-checked were; he made a great effort to verify what he could. He also, I learned later, sent copies of the text to the Zeitouns for comment and corrections. Here is where the story may have been edited to portray Zeitoun as a simple, caring, dedicated family man.

But let's start with the story. When Katrina was off-shore and appeared to be threatening New Orleans, Zeitoun encouraged his wife to take their children up north to stay with relatives, while he stayed in New Orleans, helping his customers (he is a painting contractor who also does repair and remodeling work) fortify their homes. Like many in the city, he didn't think Katrina would do any more damage than any other storm he had weathered. When his neighborhood started to flood, however, he found a rowboat and set out, initially to check on his properties. It was during these forays that he came across various persons stranded, as well as some dogs. He helped those that he could, discovering in the process that many of those who were brought into the city to deal with the disaster were security forces, not actually rescuers.

The story of Zeitoun's experiences are alternated with the story of his wife's. It reads like a tale of a loving couple, for the most part. However, the fact that Zeitoun continually found reason to stay in NO while his wife was coping with difficulties in another city suggests that their relationship may not have been all that loving.

The story brought back to me memories of that hurricane and its aftermath. The whole of this country seemed to be glued to television as report after report showed how badly the disaster was handled at a federal level, including the use of the military to "keep peace". Zeitoun's story jibes well with what I know of that time. How he actually behaved during this time is, of course, not fully known.

What has come out since the publication of this book is that Zeitoun has been charged with attempting to murder his wife, and his wife has admitted that their troubles started long before Katrina. None of this invalidates the story here, except for what Zeitoun and his wife may have thought or said. And, of course, the impression that he is a good man might be questionable.

Worth reading anyway, I think. It's quick and easy to read, written in a simple, unadorned reportorial style. A library of Katrina books is developing, and this one certainly belongs there.
( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
I started this book but when I found out the protagonist's wife divorced him after he tried to kill her and is now serving a prison sentence for violating a protective order she had on him, I lost sympathy and interest. ( )
  JoeHamilton | Jul 21, 2020 |
I loved this book! It really gave you a feel of what it was like after Hurricane Katrina. ( )
  dara85 | Dec 15, 2019 |
Unable to rate
Zeitoun has been on my shelf for years. All I knew was that it was about hurricane Katrina and got great reviews.
It’s non-fiction and follows a Syrian-American family when the father stays in New Orleans and starts rescuing people. The last 1/3 of the book is so shocking that if it wasn’t non-fiction I’d be saying “that couldn’t have happened” I was so emotionally tied to all of the people.
So why can’t I rate it? The book on its own gets 5 stars. But I’m conflicted by what happened after. I was reading some of the shocking parts at lunch yesterday so on my walk back to work googled “where are they now” just to see if everyone makes it alive. Well, it turns out a few years later that Zeitoun was put in prison for beating his wife Kathy with a tire iron, and questionable things had been done with the foundation Dave Eggers and Zeitoun set up to help people in New Orleans. The whole thing raises questions about Zeitoun and Kathy’s marriage during the storm and if his heroic character was portrayed accurately. Maybe it was...I wish I had finished the book before learning all of this because I looked at the final part with an eye of cynicism.
  strandbooks | Oct 30, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
'Zeitoun was sterk', schrijft Dave Eggers in zijn verwoestend mooie boek Zeitoun. 'Hij had nog nooit zo'n gevoel van urgentie en vastberadenheid gehad. (...) Er was een reden, wist hij nu, waarom hij was achtergebleven in de stad. Hij had zich gedwongen gevoeld om te blijven, door een kracht die hij niet kende. Hij was nodig.'De eerste helft van dit zonder opsmuk geschreven non-fictie boek heeft iets van een sprookje.
De details die de auteur heeft opgediept, maken dit boek tot een meesterwerk. In de postmoderne romancier Eggers bleek een verslaggever van het zuiverste water schuil te gaan, een observator met een gouden pen.
In “Zeitoun,” what Dave Eggers has found in the Katrina mud is the full-fleshed story of a single family, and in telling that story he hits larger targets with more punch than those who have already attacked the thematic and historic giants of this disaster. It’s the stuff of great narrative nonfiction.
"Zeitoun" is a warm, exciting and entirely fresh way of experiencing Hurricane Katrina.

Eggers' sympathy for Zeitoun is as plain and real as his style in telling the man's story. He doesn't try to dazzle with heartbreaking pirouettes of staggering prose; he simply lets the surreal and tragic facts speak for themselves.

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dave Eggersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bijnsdorp, MaaikeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaap, LucieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sumpter, RachellCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timmermann, KlausÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wasel, UlrikeÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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...in the history of the world it might even be that there was more punishment than crime...
Cormac McCarthy, The Road

To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Mark Twain
For Abdulrahman, Kathy, Zachary, Nademah, Aisha, Safiya, and Ahmad in New Orleans.

For Ahmad, Antonia, Lutfi, and Laila in Málaga.

For Kousay, Nada, Mahmoud, Zakiya, Luay, Eman, Fahzia, Fatimah, Aisha, Munah, Nasibah, and all the Zeitouns of Jableh, Lattakia, and Arwad Island.

For the people of New Orleans.
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On moonless nights the men and boys of Jableh, a dusty fishing town on the coast of Syria, would gather their lanterns and set out in their quietest boats.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, longtime New Orleans residents Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun are cast into an unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water. In the days after the storm, Abdulrahman traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could. A week later, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared-- arrested and accused of being an agent of al Qaeda.

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Penguin Australia

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