2010 Book 1 - Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Some people are doing 365 photos for 2010 - well, I missed the boat on that one. Instead, I think I will make an effort to log the books I read this year, and to explain, briefly, why I did or did not like them.

Zeitoun is the true story of what happened to one man of Syrian origins in New Orleans after Katrina. My first impression, sad to say, was judging the book by its cover. I have to admit that even before I heard the favorable reviews, I was drawn to the art work and texture of the book's cover. Zeitoun is a lovely hardcover edition (not sure how the softcover will come out) graced by very attractive, almost wood block printing stylized artwork.
Moving on past the aesthetics, one is introduced to the protagonist, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, an American citizen who was born and raised on the island town of Jableh, Syria. Zeitoun, as he is known about New Orleans, is an industrious entrepreneur who owns and operates his own painting and contracting company with his American-born wife, Kathy; together the couple have four children. As the narrative progresses, you get to know the Zeitoun family as a close-knit one, bound together by love, faith, and hard work.
Dave Eggers's writing captures the growing tension, and the wavering between skepticism and fear the Zeitoun family must have felt in the hours leading up to the evacuation and arrival of Katrina. When the time to decide came, Kathy departed from New Orleans with the children and the dog, while her husband remained to care for the couple's various rental and commercial properties. Description of the storm itself is patchy and disinterested - a reflection of the reality that Zeitoun's area was not severely impacted by the storm itself, but by the aftermath of the levees breaking. In reality, Zeitoun slept through most of the main event. What follows the departure of Katrina is a description of a surreal waterworld of abandoned pets, abandoned homes, abandoned humans, and, occasionally, the abandonment of all sense of humanity.
I don't want to spoil the rest, but I will put this book in my 'yes' pile, and encourage my friends to read on.

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