GREENWICH, Conn. – For two weeks in April, Greenwich residents are welcome to join the Greenwich Library for a series of talks, shows and music centered on this year’s Greenwich Reads Together book about a Syrian-American businessman’s struggles in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Dave Eggers's book, "Zeitoun," which was published two years ago, tells the story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, who chose to stay in New Orleans to protect his family, house and business. In the days following Katrina, he traveled by canoe through the streets, giving out supplies to those in need. He disappeared one week later.
"Zeitoun" was written in collaboration with its subjects, and Eggers researched in the United States as well as in Spain and Syria to explore Zeitoun's roots. Eggers also went into depth about Zeitoun's marriage to Kathy, an American who converted to Islam, and their children.
From April 17 to May 1, programs will feature celebrated artists from literature, jazz music and photography to renowned names from national news and government.
Here are the programs for Greenwich Reads Together:
• Talk by “Zeitoun” author Dave Eggers – Tuesday, April 17, at 7 p.m. in the Cole Auditorium, via Skype.
• Katrinaville Chronicles: Images and Observations from a New Orleans Photographer – Thursday, April 19, at 7 p.m., Greenwich Historical Society, Cos Cob: Photographer David G. Spielman shares his personal experience and images.
• Film: "Trouble the Water" – Friday, April 20, at 8 p.m., Cole Auditorium, Greenwich Library: Award-winning documentary with introduction by Greenwich resident Tom Stark, who shares his post-Katrina volunteer experience.
• Jazz Concert – Saturday, April 21, at 4 p.m., Cole Auditorium, Greenwich Library – Greenwich High Honors Jazz Ensemble, coached by the dean of New Orleans bass players Bill Huntington, performs New Orleans jazz music. Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Bennie Wallace moderates a question-and-answer session with Huntington.
• "Zeitoun’s" New Orleans in the Aftermath of Katrina: Preserving Civil Liberties While Protecting Public Safety – Tuesday, April 24, at 7 p.m., Cole Auditorium, Greenwich Library: James Letten, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana and the recipient of the U.S. Attorney’s Medallion for Distinguished Service for leadership following Hurricane Katrina, talks about the balance of protecting individual rights and public safety. Talk introduced by David Fein, U.S. attorney for Connecticut.
• The Story of a Katrina Survivor – Wednesday, April 25, at 2 p.m., Greenwich Arts Council, Greenwich Ave: Artist and current Greenwich resident Andre Lanoux tells the story of evacuating New Orleans and the challenges of rebuilding his life and career.
• Reporting from Katrina and Extreme Weather in a Warming World – Thursday, April 26, at 7 p.m., Media Center, Greenwich High School: Rob Marciano, a news and weather anchor for CNN Worldwide and 1986 Greenwich High School graduate, relays his experience of reporting on Katrina.
• Lessons from "Zeitoun:" Where Do We Go from Here? – Tuesday, May 1, at 7 p.m., Christ Church, Greenwich: An interfaith panel discusses overcoming prejudice in a diverse society.
• Children and Teen Discussion Groups
- Joint Session: Greenwich Library Junior Book Club and Middle School Book Club on April 19 at 4:30 p.m., Greenwich Library – students grades 4-8 discuss “Ninth Ward” by Jewell Parker Rhodes, the companion book for Greenwich Reads Together.
- Greenwich High School and Eastern, Western and Central Middle Schools -- each will have book discussions/programs for students, faculty and parents.
• Adult Discussion Groups – residents can organize their own (Greenwich Pen Women can supply a book group leader) or join one of the discussion groups at the Greenwich Library branches, the Perrot Library, the Retired Men’s Association, the Rotary Club, Temple Sholom or The First Presbyterian Church.
In addition to the above listed programs, there is a high school essay contest with two $200 prizes; Greenwich restaurants will offer New Orleans specialties on their seasonal menus; and a book donation drive will be held for the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club organized by the Greenwich Alliance for Education. Complete program details can be found at online.
“Zeitoun” was named a winner of an American Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. In addition, Zeitoun was named a New York Times Notable Book, an Entertainment Weekly Book of the Decade, and one of the best books of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, The New Yorker, The Huffington Post and O, the Oprah Magazine.
Print copies are available to borrow at all branches of the Greenwich Library and may also be purchased at local bookstores, including Diane’s Books. E-books and audiobooks in CD format are also available through the library. Readers are encouraged to share their feedback and keep updated on the schedule of events through the Greenwich Reads Together website. The page contains information about the book and author, reviews, interviews, discussion guides and more.
Those interested in volunteering should contact Greenwich Reads Together co-chair Gail Wilson at email or by calling 203-661-0769.