Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Report: Zeitoun

There is some really nasty stuff that happens in this country, and Zeitoun is the perfect example of this nasty stuff.

Set in the days leading-up to, during, and the months after Hurricane Katrina, this book follows the lives of the Zeitoun family as they deal with the city they loved under water, the business they built, and the strange after shocks of the Patriot Act.

As with all Eggers' books, this is beautifully written and provides a glimpse of reality that is just so close to unbelievable that it hurts to read.  However, I got home after work yesterday and read 100 pages before I went to workout and finished the next 150 after going to bed.

Abdulrahman Zeitoun (pronounced Zay-toon), a Syrian Muslim living in New Orleans, owned a contracting company, lived a normal life, and seemed to love his wife and kids.  He stayed behind to protect his investment and personal properties in New Orleans after the storm. He saved a few lives along the way.  He also saw things no one in this country should see.

He was wrongfully imprisoned on suspicions of terrorism and it changed him.  He was not extreme but devout according to the book.  This was clear based on his drive to pray regardless of conditions and rejection of pork product when he was feed during his illegal incarceration. But he was also, according to the book, a tolerant man who called a gay married couple close family friends and was honored to restore churches as Houses of God after the storm.

The book chronicles the PTSD that his wife was dealing with but it didn't really jump deeply into Zeitoun's issues.  Which is sad.  Because, as I went looking for a book cover photo today to include in this post I learned that the Zeitouns have divorced due to his violence against his ex-wife.  It is sad.

We could say it is because of the storm, his illegal processing at the hands of Homeland Security, or even, as his wife says in the above linked article, his "adoption of a 'radical' religious philosophy that she emphasized does not reflect true Muslim beliefs."  Anyway you slice it, it is sad.  In some ways I am happy I didn't Google them until after I finished the book. But in truth, his depraved violence against his wife and her sickness post-storm don't take away from the story nor does it change the injustice done.  It just makes me sad.

This book shines light on one of the worst times in Modern American History, so I suppose it was naive to expect the somewhat happy ending that was presented.

5 out 5 stars.

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