According to conversations with attendees at last night’s eventÂ on the campus of MSU featuring the “stars” of David Eggers’ book Zeitoun their appearance was one ofÂ theÂ highlights of this year’s One Book One Community event.
Attendees said the theÂ Kellogg Center was jammed withÂ readers, mostly from the community. That’s understandable since getting students out on a Sunday night is a tough assignment. Â The Michigan State News coverage ofÂ the eventÂ reminded readers that the ZeitounÂ One Book programÂ will wrap up with a New Orleans dinner on September 30.Â An estimated attendance of 700-800 once again underlined that books, authors and in this case the subjects of a book are popular entertainment in the Greater Lansing area. If there is any doubt about that premise watch for news about the upcoming author event featuring another Dave-David Sedaris who will be in Lansing in November at Schuler Books and Music for a book signingÂ for his new book “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk”.Â
When the surging floodwater of Hurricane Katrina breeched the failed levees in New Orleans in 2005 it did not drown the hopes, dreams and determination of Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun.Â
While his spouse and family wisely fled New Orleans, Abdulrahman, a Syrian-American, stayed behind to assure their home and income properties survived the onslaught. Ultimately, Abdul, as he is called by friends and neighbors, became a â€œsilentâ€ hero cutting through flood waters in a battered canoe to save lives, evacuate trapped residents and animals and bring comfort to the afflicted.Â
After the flood waters receded, Kathy was less silent but just as courageous as she was forced to cut through a xenophobic, racist atmosphere of a post 9-11 world to rescue her own husband from prison.Â
While on one of his missions Abdul found himself arrested in his own home as a looter, jailed in a makeshift prison and held incommunicado for weeks. Labeled a terrorist, and without access to legal representation Abdul increasingly found himself falling even further into an abyss that flew counter to constitutional protections. Meanwhile, his family did not know whether he was dead or alive.Â
Thanks to the intervention of a missionary who made a phone call for Abdul and Kathyâ€™s dogged determination there was a bitter-sweet ending to the story when he was freed and reunited with his family.Â
However, the story doesnâ€™t end there and is now retold by renowned author Dave Eggers in a book simply titled â€œZeitounâ€.Â
Eggerâ€™s book was chosen this year for the MSU East Lansing One Book One Community Read program which is in its ninth year.Â
Ginny Haas, MSUâ€™s Community Relations Director and a member of the selection committee, says MSU has the only university-based program reading program with ties into the local community, almost a throw back to the â€œtown to gownâ€ program of the early days of Michigan State College. In addition to MSU, several other universities around the country selected the book for reading programs.