Common Reading


About the Book

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Cover of Zeitoun"When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a prosperous Syrian-American and father of four, chose to stay through the storm to protect his house and contracting business. In the days after, he traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could. But, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared. Egger'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 the surreal atmosphere (in New Orleans and the United States generally) in which what happened to Abdulrahman Zeitoun became possible. Like What is the What, Zeitoun was written in close collaboration with its subjects and involved vast research - in this case, in the U.S., Spain, and Syria." - McSweeney's

Why Zeitoun is the 2011-12 Synergy Selection

Zeitoun is the first Synergy Common Reading selection to be recommended by a student, Taylor Curley, Class of 2012. Read on to discover why he recommended Zeitoun for the 2011-12 selection.

"When I was prompted by the Synergy committee to recommend a book that would provoke thought and discussion, I was naturally hesitant. Finding a book that you think will be relevant, engaging, and enjoyable is a very difficult task for anybody. After a great deal of consideration, I remembered a particular book that was written by one of my favorite authors, Dave Eggers, dealing with a remarkable man in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That book, of course, was Zeitoun.

Zeitoun embodies much more than just the qualms of moral obligation and disaster politics; it also characterizes a sense of community. Although we may never have to paddle out in flood waters like Zeitoun did, we can still learn from his actions and nuture a sense of pride for our school and the people that we share it with. Having pride in a community does not always mean running for student body president (although it is certainly not discouraged), but it does mean being active in its functioning, something that resounded with me in reading Zeitoun. Seeing Zeitoun's strong commitment to his home is something that I see in UNCW and hope to relate to anybody wanting to know more about our school.

So, on behalf of the Synergy committee, I invite you to explore Zeitoun and to find your own connections to the book and its themes - and to hopefully embrace the ideas of community that first attracted me to the book and led me to recommend it for the 2011 Common Reading Experience."

-Taylor Curley, Synergy Committee 2010-11, UNCW Class of 2012

How Do I Get the Book?

Freshmen: Complimentary copies of the book will be provided to all incoming freshmen at Orientation. If you are attending an Orientation in June, you will receive your copy at check-in. If you are attending an Orientation in August, your book will be mailed to you mid-July.

Students with Disabilities (all students, including Freshmen): If you are a student with a documented disability and wish to request this text in an alternate format, please contact Peggy Turner, Disability Services, at (910) 962-7555. No alternate format copies will be supplied without proper documentation.

Other Students: A limited amount of complimentary copies will be available at Common Reading events during the fall. Copies are also available for purchase at the UNCW bookstore and at your local bookstore. Copies are available for loan at Randall Library.

Faculty and Staff: If you are interested in participating in this program or reviewing the text, please email to request a copy.