This blog is dedicated to the amazing staff at the New Canaan Public Library in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers, 2009 * * * *

Imagine Charles Dickens, his sentimentality in check but his journalistic eyes wide open, roaming New Orleans after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. What Dave Eggers has found in the Katrina mud is the full-fleshed story of a single family and it makes for great nonfiction. This is the true story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a successful Syrian-born painting contractor, who decides to remain in New Orleans and protect his property while his wife and four children leave prior to the storm. After the levees break, he uses a small canoe to rescue and feed people and animals but is eventually arrested by an armed squad at his home and swept powerlessly into a vortex of bureaucratic brutality. Eggers, compiling his account from interviews, resists rhetorical grandstanding, letting injustices speak for themselves. His skill is most evident in how closely he involves the reader in Zeitoun’s thoughts. Thrown into one of a series of outdoor wire cages, Zeitoun speculates, with a contractor’s practicality, that construction of his prison must have begun within a day or so of the hurricane. Having volunteered in New Orleans post Katrina, I believe that Dave Eggers has managed to convey the lawlessness, breakdown in communication, and hopelessness that existed in that city.

No comments:

Post a Comment