The New Orleans man whose post-Hurricane Katrina struggles and heroism inspired Dave Eggers’ much-lauded nonfiction book Zeitoun was convicted last year of battering his wife, The Smoking Gun has uncovered. Abdulrahman Zeitoun, 54, was arrested in a domestic abuse incident at the home of his wife Kathryn and their five children. A police report reads:
The suspect Mr. Zeitoun enter the residence at [redacted] and began to argue with the victim Mrs. Zeitoun. After a short period the argument escalated and Mr. Zeitoun pushed Mrs. Zeitoun down to the floor, mounted her and began to strike her with a closed fist to the head. the oldest daughter of Mrs. Zeitoun heard her mother screaming for help, ran into the room, and struck Mr. Zeitoun in the neck with a kick forcing him off her mother. Mr. Zeitoun then fled the residence.
Eggers’ award-winning book portrays Zeitoun as a brave husband who stayed behind in New Orleans as his family evacuated. He paddled in a canoe through the flooded city, helping trapped neighbors and feeding starving animals. Upon the book’s release in 2009, it landed on several major year-end best lists, including those of The New York Times, O, the Oprah Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Entertainment Weekly.
Abdulrahman and Kathryn Zeitoun had reportedly separated over finances but were living next door to each other when the incident occurred. The Smoking Gun reports, “While a portion of the book’s proceeds go to the Zeitouns, Eggers has said that the ‘brunt’ of the money earned was earmarked for the charitable foundation.”