After talking with Kathy and Abdulrahman Zeitoun of New Orleans last week I understand why author Dave Eggers chose theirÂ story from the many which emerged from the hurricane-devastated New Orleans. They are a totally engaging couple and I am looking forward to theirÂ visit to East Lansing as part of the 2010 One Book, One Community program which has been underway Â since Eggersâ€™ book â€œZeitounâ€ was selected for reading by the incoming Freshman class and the East Lansing Community.
The Zeitouns will be in East Lansing September 19 for a public program, but first things first. The author, Dave Eggers, is visiting East Lansing today and tomorrow (Sunday August 29 and Monday August 30) for two public events where he will discuss â€œZeitounâ€. The book is about the couple andÂ their very personal response to Hurricane Katrina which began its devastation five years ago to the day of Eggersâ€™ visit.
Eggers, author of the memoir, â€œA Heartbreaking Work of StaggeringÂ Geniusâ€,Â is passionate about human rights, especially how victims are treated in society and through the Zeitouns he make his case that America may have taken a step back in when it comes to civil rights. â€œZeitounâ€ certainly is a book about survival and heroism, but it is more about xenophobia and racial stereotyping in a post-9-11 world.
Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-American, is the centerpiece along with his spouse Kathy. When evacuation orders come Abdulrahman stays behind to protect his rental properties and home. Kathy leaves with the children. After the flooding Abdulrahman makes his way through the city in aÂ battered canoe acting as an angel ofÂ mercy to those who couldnâ€™t leave. He is arrested and placedÂ in a makeshift prison for weeks.Â When she does not hear from himÂ Kathy imagines the worst. The question you have to ask is how could this happen in America.
MSU andÂ East Lansing have planned one of the more compelling and timely programs since the One Read program began. In addition to the Eggersâ€™ and Zeitounâ€™s visits there are programs on theÂ engineering of the levee, a writing workshop, theme dinners and screening of two documetaries on Katrina and New Orleans.
Eggers will be atÂ East Lansing High SchoolÂ Auditorium, 7 p.m., Sunday August 29 and he will speak to incoming freshmen, 9 am. Monday at the BreslinÂ StudentÂ Event Center. Both events are public and are free.