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The New Orleans man whose post-Hurricane Katrina heroics and tribulations were chronicled by best-selling author Dave Eggers in the book “Zeitoun” was convicted last year of battering his wife, who told police that she had received several prior beatings, but never called cops on her spouse.
Published in mid-2009, the nonfiction book describes how Zeitoun, a Muslim who was born in Syria, rode out Katrina after sending his family to Baton Rouge (where Kathryn grew up). After the levees broke, he used a borrowed canoe to rescue stranded neighbors and abandoned pets, while also distributing supplies and checking on tenants in buildings he owned.
The book, which features on its cover a drawing of Zeitoun paddling a canoe, also details how he was detained in a makeshift jail when cops and National Guard members suspected that he and several companions might be terrorists.
Eggers, who has described the Zeitouns as a “beautiful family,” worked closely with the couple on the book, which has won critical acclaim and many awards, including a 2010 American Book Award and a 2010 “Distinguished Honor” from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
The film director Jonathan Demme is also working on a screenplay adaptation of “Zeitoun.”