Sunday, December 30, 2012

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Ebook:  Also available in paperback (originally published 2009) 342 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Natural Disaster.
Novelicious Books (4 July 2012)
Source: I purchased for my Kindle to complete the A - Z Book Challenge 2012
First Sentence: 'On moonless nights the men and boys of Jableh, a dusty fishing town on the coast of Syria, would gather their lanterns and set out in their quietest boats.'

Review Quote: Eggers uses Zeitoun's eyes to report on America's reasonless post-Katrina world. Reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's documentaries, this is a true story told with the skills of a master of fiction. Immensely readable (Independent )

Literary Awards: Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest (2009)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Non-fiction (2009)Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Non-fiction (2010)
My Opinion: .Fascinating although disturbing.

I purchased this book for My Kindle so that I was able to complete the A - Z Book Challenge 2012 that I have participated in this year. A title I doubt I would have ever considered if it had not been for the Challenge as it is non-fiction not a genre I normally review. However it was a good choice fascinating although disturbing.

The process behind this book started in 2005 shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. A team of volunteers from Voice of Witness, a series of books that use oral history to illuminate human rights crises collected testimonies from residents and former residents of New Orleans about their lives before after and during Hurricane Katrina. An interview with Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun was included in a publication called Voices From The Storm and it was something about their story that struck home with Dave Eggers and he decided to turn it into a stand alone book. Zeitoun is the result of nearly three years of interviews and research, it makes a compelling account of the terrible experiences of this family.

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans,  Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a prosperous Syrian-American  and father of four, decided to sit out the storm rather than evacuate to protect his house and contracting business. In the days after the storm, he travelled the flooded streets in his canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could. A week later, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared.  What an earth happened to him? It is difficult to believe but sadly true!

All the events related in the book are seen through the eyes of the Zeitouns, so it must be remembered that this is how they recollect events. The process of bringing this story to print must at times have been a very painful experience for them. If you read this you will be reading the story of a very courageous family who have a tremendous amount of faith.

Author Profile

Born on March 12, 1970 in Boston, Massachusetts, The United States.
Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books, including "Zeitoun," and "What Is the What," which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in southern Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, run by Mr. Deng and dedicated to building secondary schools in southern Sudan. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine ("The Believer"), and "Wholphin," a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries. In 2002, with Nínive Calegari he co-founded 826 Valencia, a non-profit writing and tutoring centre for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. In 2004, Eggers taught at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and there, with Dr. Lola Vollen, he co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. A native of Chicago, Eggers graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

Photo and Biographical Information is with thanks to the following sites where you can also find out more about the author and his writing. 

Goodreads Author Profile   Dave Eggers - Amazon Author Profile

I have chosen to read this title as the letter Z for The A - Z Book Challenge which I decided to attempt to achieve in alphabetical order. I had a good selection of titles to choose from our bookshelves, so am pleased to announce that I have achieved my aim.  You can follow my progress and see the full list of titles that I read for the Challenge here.  


  1. Exquisite book, thank you very much for your kind words.
    I wish you a 2013 full of dreams and hopes fulfilled.

    1. It certainly opened my eyes Leovi. Thanks for your wishes for 2013, I wish you the same.

  2. This sounds like a very powerful read Linda. Great review. Happy New Year! x

    1. It was indeed Lindsay and I am pleased I picked it for my Z read. A Happy New Year to you also.

  3. Heartwarming and shocking at the same time. One of the best pieces of journalism I have read in recent years.

    Irene (Bellevue Auto Service)

    1. It is indeed Irene and thankyou for commenting. Although I do not think a link to your business is appropriate I will not spam it this time. :)

  4. I loved this one. It was painful, but beautifully written.

  5. I don't read much non-fiction but this sounds like a powerful read. And the perfect Z book.

    1. It is well worth making an exception to read this one if you get the opportunity Carol.


I indulge my love of books with this blog and it makes it all worthwhile when you leave comments. I really am interested in what you think so do let me know. I have decided as the nature of this review blog makes for conversation in the comments, just to reply here and not individually, so please subscribe to comments or call back again to stay in the conversation. Thankyou for your continued support.