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Zeitoun Paperback – June 15, 2010
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“Imagine Charles Dickens, his sentimentality in check but his journalistic eyes wide open, roaming New Orleans after it was buried by Hurricane Katrina. . . . Eggers’ 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? . . . It’s the stuff of great narrative nonfiction. . . . Fifty years from now, when people want to know what happened to this once-great city during a shameful episode of our history, they will still be talking about a family named Zeitoun.” —Timothy Egan, The New York Times Book Review
“[A] heartfelt book, so fierce in its fury, so beautiful in its richly nuanced, compassionate telling of an American tragedy, and finally, so sweetly, stubbornly hopeful.” —The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
“Zeitoun is a riveting, intimate, wide-scanning, disturbing, inspiring nonfiction account of a New Orleans married couple named Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun who were dragged through their own special branch of Kafkaesque (for once the adjective is unavoidable) hell after Hurricane Katrina. . . . [It’s] unmistakably a narrative feat, slowly pulling the reader into the oncoming vortex without literary trickery or theatrical devices, reminiscent of Mailer’s Executioner’s Song but less craftily self-conscious in the exercise of its restraint. Humanistic, that is, in the highest, best, least boring sense of the word.” —James Wolcott, Vanity Fair
“A major achievement and [Eggers’s] best book yet.” —The Miami Herald
“Zeitoun offers a transformative experience to anyone open to it, for the simple reasons that it is not heavy-handed propaganda, not eat-your-peas social analysis, but an adventure story, a tale of suffering and redemption, almost biblical in its simplicity, the trials of a good man who believes in God and happens to have a canoe. Anyone who cares about America, where it is going and where it almost went, before it caught itself, will want to read this thrilling, heartbreaking, wonderful book.” —Neil Steiberg, Chicago Sun-Times
“Which makes you angrier—the authorities’ handling of Hurricane Katrina or the treatment of Arabs since Sept. 11, 2001? Can’t make up your mind? Dave Eggers has the book for you. . . . Zeitoun is a warm, exciting and entirely fresh way of experiencing Hurricane Katrina. . . . Eggers makes this account completely new, and so infuriating I found myself panting with rage.” —Dan Baum, San Francisco Chronicle
“A masterpiece of compassionate reporting about a shameful time in our history.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Eggers’s 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. And what they say about one man and the city he loves and calls home is unshakably poignant—but not without hope.” —Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
“Zeitoun is a story about the Bush administration’s two most egregious policy disasters—the War on Terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina—as they collide with each other and come crashing down on one family. Eggers tells the story entirely from the perspective of Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun, although he says he has vigorously double-checked the facts and removed any inaccuracies from their accounts. At first, as a reader, I felt some resistance to this tactic—could the Zeitouns possibly be as wholesome and all-American as Eggers depicts them?—but the sheer momentum, emotional force and imagistic power of the narrative finally sweep such objections away.” —Andrew O’Hehir, Salon
From the Inside Flap
"This is a beautiful book. "Zeitoun" is a poignant, haunting, ethereal story about New Orleans in peril. Eggers has bottled up the feeling of post- Katrina despair better than anyone else. This is a simple story with a lingering
radiance. My admiration for the humanist spirit of Eggers knows no bounds."
-- Douglas Brinkley, author of "The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast"
""Zeitoun" is an American epic. The post-Katrina trials of Abdulrahman
Zeitoun would have baffled even Kafka's Joseph K. Though Zeitoun's story could have been a source of cynicism or despair, Dave Eggers's clear and elegant prose manages to deftly capture many of the signature shortcomings of American life while holding onto the innate optimism and endless drive to more closely match our ideals that Zeitoun and his adopted land share. Juggling these contradictions, Eggers captures the puzzle of America." -- Billy Sothern, author of "Down in New Orleans"
""Zeitoun" is a gripping and amazing story that highlights so much about the tragedy of Katrina, post-9/11 life for Arabs and Muslims, and the beautiful nature of American multi-cultural society."
-- Yousef Munayyer, policy analyst, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
""Zeitoun" is an instant American classic carved from fierce eloquence and a haunting moral sensibility. By wrestling with the demons of xenophobia and racial profiling that converged in the swirling vortex of Hurricane Katrina and post-9/11 America, Eggers lets loose the angels of wisdom and courage that hover over the lives of the beleaguered, but miraculously unbroken, Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun. This is a major work full of fire and wit by one of our most important writers."
-- Michael Eric Dyson, author of "Come Hell or High Water"
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Eggers describes the city perfectly ! The Napoleon St. Charles corner is so famous as the parade routes routinely turn toward the Garden District there. And it is only blocks from Memorial Hospital, where many patients were "euthanized" shortly before they could have been rescued (this is not an indictment against the staff. I don't know what I would have done were I in their shoes). Eggers refers to this incident, and to the nursing home in the Ninth Ward whose owners left via roof top and were criticized for abandoning their residents. Again, no aspersions here.
But I was shocked by the prison so rapidly assembled by Angola convicts for FEMA/New Orleans. None of my friends who lived in NOLA whenI did, and left for similar reasons, knew of this totally degrading place. But now, because of Eggers, they will ! I only pray that this book will help prevent this type of barbarism IN OUR COUNTRY in the future.
Anti- Muslim ? Read about this brave, proud man who remained in America despite the horrific torture and humiliation imposed on him.
I strongly recommend James Lee Burkes "Tin Roof Blowdown " after you read this book. All of Burke's New Orleans books are fantastic, but thus one is about Katrina. The real nitty gritty street scene. But Burke didn't write about Camp Greyhound. How did Eggers find out about Zeitune and the Camp ?
it was discovered that his actual persona was not in keeping with his written one. It turns out that he is far from the caring and admirable person portrayed in the book. That may be one part of him but there's another side that is far different. Once we had this information our feelings about him changed completely.
As a group we were disappointed and felt like we had been deceived by the book's portrayal. It cast a pall over any further discussion of the book.