Heading South we listened to Zeitoun by Dave Eggers which was masterfully narrated by Firdous Bamji. Zeitoun is a nonfiction account of what happened to a family when they got caught in the double vortex of Hurricane Katrina and US War on Terror.
Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-American, and his wife Kathy had a successful house-painting business in New Orleans when the city was hit by the deadly hurricane. Kathy and the children left the town ahead of the storm, but Zeitoun stayed behind to keep his eye on the house and his businesses. After the storm he spent a week canoeing around the city helping stranded citizens and feeding abandoned pets when he was surprisingly arrested as a looter but held as a terrorist. He was imprisoned for weeks without one telephone call or even knowing the charges against him. His wife had no idea where he was that whole time and feared that he had died.
As my husband and I listened we both sat with our mouths agape. How could this happen in America? How could anyone who was wrongly arrested be held for so long without so much as a telephone call or an opportunity to meet with a lawyer? How could a storm and its devastation be equated with terrorism?
Tim Egan, of the New York Times, wrote an excellent review of the book on August 13, 2009. His review is just excellent, so I encourage you to follow the link and read it. But here are a few of the highlights of it:
- "Eggers, the boy wonder of good intentions, has given us 21st-century Dickensian storytelling — which is to say, a character-driven potboiler with a point. But here’s the real trick: He does it without any writerly triple-lutzes or winks of postmodern irony. There are no rants against President Bush, no cheap shots at the authorities who let this city drown."
- “ 'This book does not attempt to be an all-encompassing book about New Orleans or Hurricane Katrina,' Eggers writes in his author’s note. Of course not. But my guess is, 50 years from now, when people want to know what happened to this once-great city during a shameful episode of our history, they will still be talking about a family named Zeitoun." -Quotes taken directly from the book review by Tim Egan in The Sunday New York Times, August 13, 2009.
Don and I both wondered why we hadn't heard more about the situation that happened to Zeitoun and many other Americans in New Orleans in 2005. We have now. This is a must read for any one who cares about our rights as citizens and who is concerned that these rights need to be protected. In addition, it is always enjoyable to listen to a book with another person so that it can be discussed and dissected. Even though we were horrified by the events reported in Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, we enjoyed the listening experience very much.
Our Northbound audiobook, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, will be the subject of tomorrow's blog post.
20 books in July Reading Challenge
4 / 20 books. 20% done!