Monday, March 29, 2010

Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers

Zeitoun is the newest work of narrative non-fiction by Dave Eggers, released in June of 2009.

It retells the experience of Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his family during Katrina and its aftermath, pieced together by hours of interviews with the family themselves. The book follows Zeitoun as he stays in the city to look after his home and other properties (he is the owner of a contracting and painting business), while his wife and four children fearfully evacuate. As the storm becomes catastrophic, Zeitoun sets out around the city in a canoe, shuttling refugees to safety, saving drowning victims, feeding dying dogs. However, a week after the hurricane first hit the city, he is arrested without reason. We follow his trajectory through a series of bureaucratic mishandlings and racial devastations -- he is held in a chainlink, makeshift prison in a parking lot for days; interrogated and violated as a suspected member of Al Qaeda; refused any communication with his family.

The book provides another riveting account of the horrors of the storm, but it's also much more than that: it's the history of a family, a discussion of religion in contemporary America, and a painful questioner, asking, How can something like this happen in this nation?
It's a very impressive work, and I really recommend it.

More about the book HERE

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