Friday, June 4, 2010

Zeitoun; a few words

I just finished Dave Eggers' latest piece of nonfiction, Zeitoun. I thought the book deserved more than my standard Facebook-notification of recommendation.

The book gives an account of New Orleans residents Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun as they experienced the events of Hurricane Katrina. The Zeitouns are devout Muslims, have four children, and are respected contractors in the New Orleans community.

Throughout the first third of the book, I quickly bonded to the Zeitoun family while also forming a connection to the city of New Orleans and the Syrian culture from which Zeitoun came. Written in a chronological, journalistic nature, the impending natural disaster creates a certain "impending doom" that is hard to ignore but once the brunt of the hurricane comes and goes, the crux of the book arrives and gave me a picture of post-hurricane New Orleans and all the mayhem that came with it. While most of the book's criticism of the country's reaction is told in a pure story format, the following quote nicely sums up much of the book's thesis:
This country was not unique. This country was fallible. Mistakes were being made. He was a mistake. In the grand scheme of the country's blind, grasping fight against threats seen and unseen, there would be mistakes made. Innocents would be suspected. Innocents would be imprisoned.
A quick note on the author, Dave Eggers. Although certain friends of mine (cough*Goodrich*cough) have a distaste for Eggers' popular book, A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius, calling Eggers a "narcissistic tool" who thinks that he is " special and no one gets it," I have enjoyed his writing. While writing some decent memoir-ish stuff, he has also written a good amount of social justice related books (most notably, What Is The What), with profits usually going directly towards charities involved with the subject at hand. He has also started a writing and tutoring center in his hometown of San Francisco and been involved in similar operations around the country. Basically, it's nice to see a talented, successful author use his craft to highlight more substantive issues (read: not narcissistic).


Anonymous said...

I don't read your blog often, but I enjoyed my shout out, and an accurate portrayal of my view of Eggers.

Though, I did like What is the What, and this book seems interesting as well.


Josiah said...

It's good to hear that I'm portraying you accurately.