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Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
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Zeitoun (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Dave Eggers

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2,8001332,085 (4.12)278
Member:diana.n
Title:Zeitoun
Authors:Dave Eggers
Info:McSweeney's (2009), Hardcover, 342 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
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Work details

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2009)

  1. 50
    What Is the What by Dave Eggers (jmarsico)
  2. 00
    A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit (Othemts)
  3. 00
    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.
  4. 00
    Isaac's storm by Erik Larson (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Story of the hurricane in Galveston in 1900 resulting in unexpected and devastating flooding
  5. 00
    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.
  6. 00
    Proved Innocent by Gerry Conlon (Othemts)
  7. 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.
  8. 00
    The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast (Othemts)
  9. 11
    Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum (bdav1818)
  10. 00
    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.
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» See also 278 mentions

English (126)  Dutch (5)  German (2)  All languages (133)
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
A very readable and often shocking non-fiction account of one family’s experience during Hurricane Katrina. I’m glad to have read it, and learned a lot from it – particularly the connection between the disaster and the ‘War on Terror’ – which wouldn’t have been immediately obvious but which was explained patiently in the final section.

Inevitably, though, my reading experience was coloured by the fact that I googled “Zeitoun” while reading the book, and learned that events have not been kind to this family in recent years. I really wished I hadn’t found that out before I finished reading, and if you don’t want to know, please stop reading this now. The solidity of the Zeitoun family’s marriage was at the heart of the story, and to learn that their relationship has imploded spectacularly was a shock; it made me question everything I was reading. Looking back now, I wonder how important it is that I believe it to be the truth....if it were fiction I would know it wasn’t true and I read fiction all the time. And yet....if it were fiction I would surely have questioned the characterisation and said to myself ‘no, no, these Zeitouns are too good to be true. Nobody is that perfect.’

I’d have to put this book on the same imaginary shelf as “Papillon” and “The Bookseller of Kabul” – they are all supposed to be based on fact, but for various reasons you have to take them with a pinch of salt. Yet they all have something valuable to say, and I don’t regret reading any of them. In the case of’ Zeitoun’, regardless of the doubts that might be raised by recent events, this is a real family who lived through an immense trauma and I wish them peace. ( )
  jayne_charles | Nov 17, 2014 |
This book was a speed read for me. I stayed up super late reading this and woke up in the morning desperately wanting to finish it. I liked the writing style but I felt that the flashbacks were a bit unnecessary and slowed the story down a bit too much. I had never heard Zeitoun's story and was completely appalled by the situation he was placed.

I found it absolutely depressing to read about the recent news about him and his wife. ( )
  jilliantow | Oct 22, 2014 |
This is such a disturbing book. It's made worse by knowing that the story is true. It begins with the Zeitoun family who were caught in the oncoming Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Mr. Zeitoun and his wife, owners of a painting/construction business, and their four children were involved in the maelstrom of preparation for evacuation. However, Mr. Zeitoun (referred to as "Zeitoun" in this book) makes the decision to stay at home to weather the storm and watch his other properties while having his wife and children evacuate. This was probably the worst decision of his life.

What ensues afterward is painful story. Zeitoun remains to do good and help people as he is owner of a small working canoe. However, his good intentions were almost for naught as he was arrested and imprisoned unfairly and made to suffer for his Islamic background and appearance.

What happens in this story is almost unbelievable. The many lapses of good judgment by others and the cruelty and unfairness of our law enforcement agencies are downright frightening. How could such situations happen? It is so unfortunate.

In response, author Dave Eggers, decided to tell the Zeitoun family story in as much detail as possible. To try to right the wrongs, he, along with the Zeitoun family and McSweeney's, set up The Zeitoun Foundation which consists of multiple agencies to help victims of and also to prevent abuses such as those suffered by the Zeitoun family during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This was a step in the right direction after untold cruelty to a hardworking husband, father, business owner, and immigrant to America. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Jun 11, 2014 |
Couldn't bear to go on with this after hearing the end of the Zeitouns' story as a couple, with Zeitoun now in prison for assault and facing trial for soliciting his wife and stepson's murder. There may be some lesson about the perils of writing "character-driven" non-fiction here, but I don't know what it is.
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
A real eye opener. This happened in the United States?
  zguba | Apr 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
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 (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dave Eggersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Timmermann, KlausÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wasel, UlrikeÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
...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
Dedication
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.
First words
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.
Quotations
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
...in de geschiedenis van de wereld is er misschien wel meer straf geweest dan misdaad...
Cormac McCarthy, The Road (De weg)

Voor wie een hamer heeft, lijkt alles op een spijker.
Mark Twain
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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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.… (more)

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