Travis Greenwood's Reviews > Zeitoun

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
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M 50x66
's review
May 29, 2012

really liked it

I thought this book was excellent on the whole. The pacing was fantastic, the character development was concise and built real discernible depth. The story, by all accounts of my 2 minute thirty second google search is indeed a true story. It's an extremely sad account of what people do when no one is watching, and what our own civilized government is capable when an event slips outside their realm of control.

We aren't very far removed from animals after all.

That being said, I did have a few problems and a few observations.

Number one, there was an odd section towards the beginning where it was explaining the virtues of Islam. I understand why it was put there, the average reader would be an American, and more likely Christian, or hold Christian values, and in all likelihood harbor racist sentiments against the middle east.

But it was forced and a bit awkward. The book did a fine job of showing that Muslim's are not bad, it didn't need this chapter.

I also found it interesting the scope of differences that Syrian's and American's feel about jail. It was an application of a stereotype. The Syrian members of the family felt it was vastly important that Kathy see him. The implication that people would be lying about his well being.

That being said, there was a lot of truth to this fear in this situation and being a large fan of American rights that we hold so dear, I'm ashamed at the level of treatment afforded these men.

Of course, I question if it was because they were Syrian, or because the entire judicial process had become a sham at that point. It would be interesting to see if white, Christians were held in jail for a similar amount of time. But in what we are shown, it seemed typical American fashion, which was to have a good lawyer on hand. Of course, Zeitoun got lucky with the Priest, and henceforth, Homeland Security.

All in all, worth reading.

EDIT UPDATE: I also find it interesting and a bit silly thinking now that Zeitoun's family was constantly talking about coming home to Syria since it's sooooo much safer then America.

Ask the children of Houla...
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