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Paddling in the shallows

Dave Eggers, one of the most powerful figures in current American writing, has tackled Hurricane Katrina. But he fails to get under the skin of New Orleans

By Jonathan Tel   March 2010

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (Hamish Hamilton, £18.99)

There is a scene in the recent film Where the Wild Things Are in which we are given a vision of a city, flooded, with two figures floating through it in a canoe. One of the figures declares ruefully: “It was going to be a place where only the things you wanted to have happened would happen.” The screenplay was written by Dave Eggers, and the imagery is borrowed from his new book, Zeitoun, an (allegedly factual) account of a real Muslim couple in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

We watch Where the…

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