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About the Book

Zeitoun
by Dave Eggers

zeitounAbdulrahman Zeitoun is a Syrian-born entrepreneur who runs a busy painting company in New Orleans. He is a devout Muslim, married to a native of Baton Rouge who had converted to Islam before meeting Zeitoun.

As Hurricane Katrina barrels toward New Orleans, his wife Kathy takes the children out of town, while Abdulrahman stays to keep an eye on their house and several rental properties they own. In the first couple of days, his decision to stay behind seems a good one, and even after the levees break and the streets and houses fill with water, he is able to help several people who have stayed behind but now need to be rescued.

As the National Guard enter the city, armed with machine guns and surveillance helicopters, things begin to go very wrong for Abdulrahman. He is taken into custody and put into a temporary jail—a cage, in fact—hastily erected behind the Greyhound station. There he is subject to strip searches, and he witnesses beatings and other mistreatment of fellow prisoners, and is denied the right to phone his wife and let her know where he is.

Zeitoun’s ordeal is the main subject of this harrowing nonfiction book, while Eggers enriches the shocking tale of injustice with a richly layered account of Zeitoun’s early life on the coast of Syria, his large and loving family, his relationships with his friends, employees, and neighbors.

Used by permission of Random House, ©2010