Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Review -- Zeitoun

ZeitounZeitoun by Dave Eggers
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book source:  Nook
Genre:  Non-fiction; biography
Objectionable material:  FEMA (!)

Do you ever wonder what would happen if you were accused of something you didn’t do?

Would you be able to convince someone of your innocence?

Could you find an attorney?

Would your family and friends believe you?

What if you were arrested and no one knew?

In Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, we come to know Abdulrahman Zeitoun (going forward known simply as Zeitoun [Zay-toon]) – a hardworking business man in New Orleans, who with his wife Kathy, run a successful painting/home restoration company. In the immediate days that proceed and follow Hurricane Katrina, they struggle, like most did, with what to do: Do we leave? Do we stay? Storms are never as bad as they predict? What about our properties? Our business? Our home?

They decide as a family that Zeitoun will stay and “man the fort” while Kathy takes their 4 children to stay with relatives in Baton Rouge.

And we all know what happens next: first few days…storm seems manageable. Then the levees break and the floods come.

Zeitoun is stranded in his home – but fortunately, he has had time to secure much of their property to the upper floors. He also has a second-hand canoe.

With his canoe he saves stranded neighbors, friends and dogs. He also is able to check on the multiple properties they own in the city. Including a property that has a working landline phone. It’s from this property that he is able to contact Kathy on a daily basis (while she is pleading for him to leave!) and from this property that his worst nightmare manifests.

Eggers brilliantly tells the story of what happens to Zeitoun and Kathy in the weeks that follow Katrina. It’s Shakespearian in scope – unlawful arrest, missing for days, presumed dead – everyone’s worst nightmare come to pass.

I was horrified by our Government.

I was humbled by Zeitoun’s faith.

Something like this should never happen. Ever. Especially in the United States.

And in his own words, Mr. Zeitoun about his experience post Katrina: