The true story of one family, caught between Americas two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun run a house-painting business in New Orleans. In August of 2005, as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Kathy evacuates with their four young children, leaving Zeitoun to watch over the business. In the days following the storm he travels the city by canoe, feeding abandoned animals and helping elderly neighbors. Then, on September 6th, police officers armed with M-16s arrest Zeitoun in his home. Told with eloquence and compassion, Zeitoun is a riveting account of one familys unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water.
A New York Times Notable Book
An O, The Oprah Magazine Terrific Read of the Year
A Huffington Post Best Book of the Year
A New Yorker Favorite Book of the Year
A Chicago Tribune Favorite Nonfiction Book of the Year
A Kansas City Star Best Book of the Year
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Decade
FRIDAY AUGUST 26, 2005
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. Five or six small craft, two or three fishermen in each. A mile out, they would arrange the boats in a circle on the black sea, drop their nets, and, holding their lanterns over the water, they would approximate the moon.
The fish, sardines, would begin gathering soon after, a slow mass of silver rising from below. The fish were attracted to plankton, and the plankton were attracted to the light. They would begin to circle, a chain linked loosely, and over the next hour their numbers would grow. The black gaps between silver links would close until the fishermen could see, below, a solid mass of silver spinning.
Abdulrahman Zeitoun was only thirteen when he began fishing for sardines this way, a method called lampara, borrowed from the Italians. He had waited years to join the men and teenagers on the ...
Zeitoun is certainly a notable book and deserving of all the praise it's received, but it's not flawless. I found much of it plodding and poorly written - disappointing in light of Eggers' considerable literary talent. More than that, though, was the feeling that I was being overtly manipulated into having certain opinions or feelings toward the main character and his situation. All writers do this to some extent, but in Eggers' case it's blatant and heavy-handed. The first half of the book, for example, relates the lives and histories of Zeitoun and his Louisiana-born wife, Kathy. So much of the narrative focuses on the fact that the couple are Muslim, however, that it biases readers for what is to come. By the time we reach Zeitoun's arrest, we're predisposed to think his treatment is due to his Middle Eastern background, and some of the early summaries of the book go further to imply that this is the case. It eventually becomes apparent that Zeitoun's race and religion are immaterial to his situation, but by then the implication of racism is hard to shake.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (742 words).
The term "hurricane" is believed to originate with the Carib people of the West Indies (after whom the Caribbean was named). Historians believe that the Carib word huracan was probably derived from the Mayan storm god, Hunraken or the K'iche god of thunder and lightning, Hurakan. K'iche (in Spanish Quiché) is a part of the Mayan language family spoken by many people in the central highlands of Guatemala.
Hurricanes form when moisture from warm ocean water (at least 80oF/27oC) combines with warm air at the ocean surface. The developing storm is then hit by a strong surface wind that spirals the air inward. Bands of thunderstorms form over this storm which allows the air to warm further and rise ...
If you liked Zeitoun, try these:
Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink's landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and suspense-filled portrayal of the quest for truth and justice.
Newbery Honor author Rodman Philbrick presents a gripping yet poignant novel about a 12-year-old boy and his dog who become trapped in New Orleans during the horrors of Hurricane Katrina.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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