Author: Dave Eggers
Publisher: McSweeney’s, August 2009
Summary: In his National Book Critic’s Circle-nominated book What is the What, Dave Eggers deftly told the true story of a Sudanese boy-soldier and refugee as a ‘fictional’ narrative. In his latest, Eggers does the same for the city of New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Zeitouns, Abdulrahman, an immigrant of Syrian descent and his wife Kathy, a native Louisianan, are practicing Muslims who own a successful contracting business. When the storm draws near, Kathy takes their children to higher ground while Zeitoun remains to protect their properties.
Steering his secondhand canoe through the city streets, Zeitoun finds great comfort in assisting where needed while Kathy pleads with him to abandon the city, up until the day he stops calling. The truth behind his disappearance is shocking and life-altering.
Zeitoun manages to feel epic in scope while remaining compulsively readable. In its honest and clear-eyed depiction of the hurricane and its aftermath, it tells a deeply American story about faith, family, the cultural melting pot, devotion to duty, and what it takes to survive when the unthinkable occurs.
When you finish a book as good as this one, you are exhilarated but somehow sad because you can never read it for the first time again. Zeitoun cannot be recommended highly enough.
Who will like this book?: This is a book that deserves a wide readership, but it will particulary appeal to those who like reading stories about ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances.
If you like this, try this: What is the What by Dave Eggers. 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina by Chris Rose. The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley.
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian