Friday, February 05, 2010

What We're Reading: Zeitoun

It is amazing and disheartening to know that Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers, is nonfiction. Many know about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, but this is the story of one family who was a victim of nature, suspicion, and prejudice in its wake. Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-American, was a good and successful businessman. He owned a house and contracting business and several rental properties. He was fair and kind to his neighbors and clients, and reluctant to leave his home of New Orleans even as the warnings became more dire. His wife Kathy and his four children left the city, but he remained behind. As the days progressed and the situation became bleaker, he felt it necessary to stay - he thought that God would want him to help. So, he set out on an old metal canoe, feeding abandoned dogs and helping to ensure that stranded people would be able to get to the evacuation centers. This all changed when law enforcement arrested him with no particular charge in mind - at least none they would tell him initially - and refused him a phone call that would let his fretful wife know that he was alive. Disparaging looks and mutterings of "Taliban" and "Al Qaeda" let him know that his situation was dangerous. An important read for everyone, especially to reinforce that we can assume much about others that is false.

No comments: