I’ve just finished reading Zeitoun, Dave Eggers’ latest book. I’ve an ongoing habit of alternating reading one fiction, one non-fiction book. I keep meaning to write about some of them here, but never get around to it, but am taking the time for this one. Zeitoun tells the story of one family’s experience immediately preceding, during & after hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. It grew out of the Voice of Witness project, a fascinating project, particularly in this modern age, with a goal of collection oral histories.
Zeitoun tells the story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-American & his wife Kathy. Like most of what I’ve read by Dave Eggers, the concern here is not so much in the writing of a book, but in the TELLING OF A STORY. An important story – content seems to precede style in his work – particularly these semi-journalistic books like this one & his last, What is the What. This has both positives & negatives. I really feel like I’m hearing these people’s own voices, much less so than Dave Eggers’ voice. On the other hand, I think some of the writing suffers somewhat for this.
Yes, everything that you might think would happen to an Arab-American canoeing through post-hurricane New Orleans in the post-9/11 America happens to this family. It’s horrible. It’s also the most affecting personal story I’ve read of just how things have changed for muslims in America since 9/11. This small, personal story made a much greater impact on me than any of the large-scale important reporting I’ve read in the papers, magazines, etc to date. It’s a good, sometimes hard, but well-worthwhile read.