The San Francisco Public Library invites San Franciscans to participate in the 6th annual One City One Book: San Francisco Reads program by announcing the selection of Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.
“The One City One Book program strives to provide a book that is thought provoking and illuminating for our diverse residents while uniting us in a common literary effort,” said City Librarian Luis Herrera. “The selection of San Francisco writer Dave Eggers’ book about a family in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina brings forth important issues about communities in the wake of disaster that is sure to resonate with readers citywide.”
Eggers’ nonfiction book is about Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a prosperous Syrian-American father of four, who chose to stay in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck to protect his house and his contracting business. In the days that followed, he traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could.
Eggers’s riveting nonfiction book, three years in the making, explores Zeitoun’s roots in Syria, his marriage to Kathy—an American who converted to Islam—and their children, and the surreal atmosphere (in New Orleans and the U.S., in general) in which what happened to Abdulrahman Zeitoun became possible. Zeitoun was written in close collaboration with its subjects and involved vast research—in the U.S., Spain, and Syria.
This true story is a page turner that is sure to engage readers this summer and the Library encourages them to participate in informative programs in September and October. Among the programs is a talk by Dave Eggers, in conversation with Beth Lisick, in the Koret Auditorium at the Main Library on Oct. 14, 2010.
Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books, including What Is the What, a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of France's Prix Médicis Etranger. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in southern Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, run by Mr. Deng and dedicated to building secondary schools in southern Sudan. His most recent book, Zeitoun, was awarded the LA Times Book award, Northern California Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Distinguished Honor, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council's Media Award. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine (The Believer), and Wholphin, a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries. In 2002, with Ninive Calegari, he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Boston, and D.C. In 2004, Eggers taught at the University of California—Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and there, with Dr. Lola Vollen, he co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world.
In searching for a compelling title, the eight-person selection committee for One City One Book considered books that met as many as possible of the following criteria: high literary quality; reflective of universal issues facing San Franciscans; mirror the diversity of San Francisco; have connections to San Francisco (either through the content or the author’s relationship with the city); available in key languages; available in large quantities; appealing to adults and teens; available in paperback; capable of sparking provocative discussions; and lend themselves to engaging public programs around the book.
Zeitoun is available as a hardcover book from McSweeney’s Books and trade paperback from Vintage Books. The book is also available at the Library in audiobook and e-book formats.
One City One Book: San Francisco Reads is supported by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.
For complete program information, visit the San Francisco Public Library website at www.sfpl.org. All programs at the Library are free.
Related programs in September:
Preparing Yourself and Your Companion Animal for a Disaster - Learn how to protect your beloved pet when an emergency or disaster occurs.
Sept. 8, Latino/Hispanic Meeting Room, Main Library, 6 p.m.
Sept. 15, Excelsior Branch Library, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22, Glen Park Branch Library, 6:30 p.m.
Zeitoun, A Sad Tale of Civil Liberties Abuse – ACLU attorney Julia Mass will talk about the civil liberties abuses depicted in Zeitoun as well as the recent history of civil liberties abuses against Americans of Middle Eastern extraction since 9/11.
Sept. 11, Western Addition Branch Library, 2 p.m.
A Village Called Versailles - This film tells the story of a Vietnamese community on the edge of New Orleans which fought the opening of a toxic government-imposed landfill near their homes after Hurricane Katrina. A panel discussion, with filmmaker Leo S. Chiang, follows the film.
Sept. 21, Koret Auditorium, Main Library, 6 p.m.
Dark Water Rising: Survival Stories of Hurricane Katrina Animal Rescues - Over 50,000 dogs and cats were left behind in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This film tells uplifting stories of hope and survival as pets are reunited with their owners while other lucky animals find loving new homes.
Sept. 22, Excelsior Branch Library, 7 p.m.
Oral History Workshop - Oral historian Basya Petnick will discuss the process of collecting oral histories, as in Zeitoun and Voices from the Storm: The People of New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina and its Aftermath.
Sept. 25, Potrero Branch Library, 3:30 p.m.
One City One Book Discussion Group
Sept. 29, Mission Bay Branch Library, 6:30 p.m.