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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Watery Apocalypse

I like post-apocalyptic fiction. I am fascinated to read how people survive and cope when the world they knew crumbles away. While a lot of times these stories are set far in the future and have sci-fi elements to them, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers is a post-apocalyptic tale that’s true. Set in New Orleans during the time of Hurricane Katrina, Zeitoun lets you experience the flooding and complete wreckage of the city, the implementation of a military state, the confusion and fear. While his family flees the city before the storm, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-American landlord with a painting and contacting business, decides to stay behind to look after his properties and work-sites. He weathers the hurricane in his home, and then the flood water arrives. After moving everything of value he can to the second floor of his house, Zeitoun starts to journey out into the newly water-filled city in his old canoe. He rescues neighbors, feeds stranded dogs, and finds some of his friends. There is a working phone in one of his rental properties and he calls his anxious wife faithfully every day at noon. Then one day he stops calling; he has disappeared. What happened to Zeitoun is a suspenseful story of injustice and the breakdown of society in a time of crisis. Zeitoun was also the top nonfiction book on the 2009 Megalist of Best Books of the Year.

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