In “Zeitoun,” what Dave Eggers has found in the Katrina mud is the full-fleshed story of a single family, and in telling that story he hits larger targets with more punch than those who have already attacked the thematic and historic giants of this disaster. It’s the stuff of great narrative nonfiction.
Eggers, the boy wonder of good intentions, has given us 21st-century Dickensian storytelling — which is to say, a character-driven potboiler with a point. But here’s the real trick: He does it without any writerly triple-lutzes or winks of postmodern irony. There are no rants against President Bush, no cheap shots at the authorities who let this city drown. He does it the old-fashioned way: with show-not-tell prose, in the most restrained of voices.
The review makes me think of Lanterns on the Levee.