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"Zeitoun" is Catawba College's Common Reading for 2011-2012 First-Year Students

January 04, 2011

Category: Academics, Students


ZeitounAuthor Dave Eggers' "Zeitoun" will be the common summer reading for the incoming class of first-year students at Catawba College this fall. These students should be prepared to discuss this text during orientation and in their first-year seminar classes.

Eggers won the American Book Award for "Zeitoun" which is the story of Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun, New Orleans residents whose lives were irrevocably changed by Hurricane Katrina.

Catawba's Common Summer Reading group, comprised of students, staff and faculty, made "Zeitoun" its selection in part because "Hurricane Katrina is a salient and important part of the lives of students entering Catawba during fall 2011." These students will remember images from Katrina, "but may not know or remember much about life in New Orleans during and after the storm," the Common Summer Reading group reported.

Eggers' book will allow the students to better understand the impact of both the storm and the attempts to control the storm damage on the social and economic lives of citizens in New Orleans. "Zeitoun" will also provide a starting point for students to discuss the impact of natural disasters on civil rights and liberties of Americans, and the book will allow them to examine their own role as citizens and their own obligations to their communities.

The Catawba College Common Summer Reading Program, started in 2005, is an initiative intended to get incoming first-year students talking about important issues. The program affords an opportunity to participate in and contribute to the intellectual life of the College before students arrive on campus and provides them with a shared academic experience during Orientation and the first semester.

Themes in the reading are addressed in a variety of contexts: during formal discussion in Orientation, in individual First-Year Seminars, in community fora (including BookRevue), during informal discussions (with faculty, ALPHAs, coaches, staff, and other students), and in Lilly CenterEvents such as values and vocation dinners. Thus, the reading provides a common base for discussion among all members of the campus community for the entire year.

Catawba's previous Common Reading texts have included "Why Things Bite Back" by Edward Tenner (2005); "Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini (2006); "Mountains Beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder (2007); "We Are All the Same" by Jim Wooten (2008); "In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars" by Kevin Sites (2009); and "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson (2010).


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