Books: Dave Egger's "Zeitoun"

I rarely step out of my comfort zone of book review reading but recently have started to seek out reviews from sources other than my two staples, The New York Review of Books and The New York Times and discovered some terrific reviews of books that might not ordinarily come to my attention.

Dave Egger's book, "Zeitoun" is one that I might have missed if I hadn't gotten so fed up with politics as usual, and checked out Salon's book section.

With so many books on my wish list, I don't know which or how many I'll actually get to read, but I do know that the subjects of Egger's book, "Katrina, the hurricane and prejudices in the United States" are two subjects that personally engage me and get me thinking--always dangerous.

After four days of halfheartedly listening to the Sotomayor interrogation, and the apparent overt and covert racism in the Senate questioning, it comes as no surprise that a family in New Orleans would be scapegoated in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 in the midst of a natural and horrific disaster in our country 4 years later.

As I was on the scene, so to speak, for both events, they are indelibly etched in my mind.

I was on foot by half past twelve on September 11 in New York City, pondering as all of us did what to do next. I chose to be with the only person I loved who was in the City at the time, and in a neighbourhood most familiar to me: Greenwich Village. In these familiar surroundings and with my god-daughter I felt I had chosen the best of all possible courses for that horrific day.

But when Katrina hit New Orleans and its environs, I was stranded in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had been headed for Asheville, but the pumps went down both to the West and the East of me, and I stayed put in unfamiliar surroundings with strangers. I wasn't frightened as much as challenged by my inability to get out of town, and back to New York City.

Others undoubtedly have their own strong memories of the two events, but how many of us got caught up in how the two instances linked up.

It did for the Zeitoun family in ways that speak poorly on our national consciousness and Egger brings it together for us to listen to in a third person voice.

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