Palak's Reviews > Zeitoun

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
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's review
Jul 09, 2012

it was amazing
Read in March, 2012

I have to be honest: I’d never heard of this book until a month ago when the college that I work for chose it as its common read pick where faculty and students alike are encouraged to read and discuss the book at a later period in the semester. My boss, knowing that I was an avid reading enthusiast, checked the book out, threw it on my desk, and told me to read it and then “report back” all in the hopes of inciting her to read it as well. Here I am, reporting back after visiting the frontlines of devastation, hypocrisy, and prejudice in New Orleans through the eyes of Abuldrahman Zeitoun.

It’s hard to imagine that the current world we live in, in first-world utopia, is distraught with such antediluvian principles of hate and the restriction of basic human rights. After reading Zeitoun, I myself, however, am still flabbergasted. During and after Hurricane Katrina, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, referred to simply by his last name, stays behind in New Orleans to look after his home, business, and several rental properties while the rest of his family, friends and most acquaintances flee. However, in an emergency state, even non-threats are perceived as threats in the midst of reports of looting, raping, and pillaging during and days after the storm. Soon a whirlwind of allegations, accusations, and conflict with authority that Zeitoun, a Middle Eastern American, encounters only exacerbates the damage and torrential legacy of Hurricane Katrina.

One can only hope the love that he and his wife, Kathy, share, separated by a thousand-plus miles, prevails over the injustice of a broken and ill-suited governmental response. Zeitoun is surprisingly captivating and a fairly quick read. But the situations and, more importantly, the settings they occurred in force you to question what era we live in and what principles cannot be cast off even in the epicenter of chaos.

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