His latest book, Zeitoun, is another riveting work of narrative nonfiction—this time exploring post-Katrina New Orleans (and post-9/11 America) through the experience of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-born contractor who endured the hurricane to protect his properties and assist in the recovery effort.
Just as he did in What Is the What, Eggers captures—with great restraint, letting the events speak for themselves—a true life story of tragic conditions, unimaginable trial, and yet ultimately, triumphantly, human perseverance and hope.
The New York Times Book Review says it best: “Imagine Charles Dickens, his sentimentality in check but his journalistic eyes wide open, roaming New Orleans after it was buried by Hurricane Katrina… Fifty years from now, when people want to know what happened to this once-great city during a shameful episode of our history, they will still be talking about a family named Zeitoun.”
And while we’re touting Dave Eggers, I’ll also mention that you can pre-order a copy of The Wild Things, a novel based on the movie screenplay co-written with Spike Jonze. Standard edition here. Fur-covered edition here.
Here are a few more books that have captured my imagination lately…all enthusiastically recommended.
Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod
Cartoonist-author-blogger MacLeod serves up opinions on everything from marketing to the meaning of life, but one of his main subjects is creativity. How do new ideas emerge in a cynical, risk-averse world? Where does inspiration come from? What does it take to make a living as a creative person?
Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy by Dev Patnaik
Patnaik, an advisor to some of the world’s most admired companies, tells the story of how organizations prosper when they tap into a power each of us already has: empathy, the ability to reach outside of ourselves and connect with other people. Empathic people (and companies) see new opportunities faster than their competitors. They have the courage to take a risk on something new. And they have the gut-level certitude to stick with an idea that doesn’t take off right away.
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Mazzucchelli’s graphic novel is beautiful, funny, human and brilliant. It’s the story of Asterios Polyp, an arrogant, prickly, award-winning architect who’s never built an actual building. When the structure of his own life falls apart, he runs away to try to rebuild it into something new. It’s aptly described as “340 pages of humanity, soul-searching, graphic design, philosophy and humor,” and “a perfect marriage of words and pictures.”
Drop City by T.C. Boyle
Think Summer of Love meets Into the Wild. It’s 1970, and a California commune has decided to relocate to the last frontier—the unforgiving landscape of interior Alaska. Armed with the spirit of adventure and naïve optimism, the inhabitants of “Drop City” arrive in the wilderness of Alaska only to find their utopia already populated by other young homesteaders. When the two communities collide, unexpected friendships and dangerous enmities are born as everyone struggles with the bare essentials of life: love, nourishment, and a roof over one’s head.