“Zeitoun” is an eye opening true story of the flaws in our country that come to light when disaster strikes.
Dave Eggers tells the story of one family’s struggles before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. Through the tale of the Zeitoun family we see that the damage this epic hurricane caused was not only to property and the city of New Orleans.
After deciding to stay in the city and look after some of his properties, Abdulrahman Zeitoun (known as Zeitoun) paddles through the city in a canoe, surveying the damage and helping where he can. In his little canoe he helps where many rescue workers could not. During a visit to one of his properties, he is assumed to be looting and is immediately arrested.
Without sounding too political ( I review books not the state of our country) the book begins to reveal awful truths. It is shocking how quickly Zeitoun is sucked into a flawed system and bewildering when we find out what may have been the cause of his imprisonment.
While the story of Zeitoun’s ordeal is appalling, Eggers, in a speech made in East Lansing last Sunday, was quick to say the blame could not be placed in one single area. The storm revealed many flaws in systems those in New Orleans already knew needed work. He also stated he felt it was the work of “terrible assumptions” that were at the heart of the problems that arose during and after the storm.
As we read Zeitoun we may experience a wide range of emotions; shock, awe, sadness, anger. We may feel like we need to do something, but cannot. In his speech Eggers has a piece of advice for Americans. He asks only that we “hold ourselves to our own highest ideals.”