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Finding Nouf Paperback – May 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
A finely detailed literary mystery set in contemporary Saudi Arabia, Ferraris's debut centers on Nouf ash-Shrawi, a 16-year-old girl who disappeared into the desert three days before her marriage and has been found dead, several weeks pregnant. Palestinian Nayir al-Sharqi who lives in Jeddah and works occasionally for the rich Shrawi family, is asked by them to investigate Nouf's death discreetly. Nayir, a conservative Muslim and an outsider because of his nationality, his class and his large stature, is wary of traversing the wide gulf between Saudi men's and women's worlds, and is encouraged by his friend Othman, an adopted son of the Shrawis, to seek out the help of Katya Hijazi, Othman's fiancée. Katya has a Ph.D. and is employed in the women's section of the state medical examiner's office. As Nayir and Katya's investigation progresses, it becomes clear that at least one of the Shrawis has something to hide. Ferraris, who has lived in Saudi Arabia, gets deep inside Nayir's and Katya's very different perspectives, giving a fascinating glimpse into the workings and assumptions of Saudi society. As a mystery, it's fairly well-turned, but it's the characters and setting that sparkle. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Finding Nouf is my favorite kind of mystery: an unlikely detective guiding us through an unfamiliar world. Ferraris uses the genre smartly, setting an unsolved murder in a society that is complex, veiled, and itself full of mystery and intrigue.
—David Ebershoff, author of The 19th Wife
Zoë Ferraris’s novel lifts the veil on the repressed personal lives of Saudi Arabia’s rich, giving us unparalleled insight into daily life in an oft-caricatured culture—and a great mystery. Her detective, Nayir al-Sharqi, is a sharp desert guide, and one might say that in her writing Ferraris follows a similar profession. —Matt Beynon Rees, author of The Collaborator of Bethlehem
The mystery that preoccupies Finding Nouf keeps you turning its pages, while its characters linger with you long after you’ve finished. Katya and Nayir’s unconventional partnership argues for the virtues of reconciliation even as it throws off sparks. Finding Nouf is a compelling and deeply humane book.—Anita Amirrezvani, author of The Blood of Flowers
Finding Nouf combines the ancient mysteries of the desert with sleek literary prose. This deeply original work is entrancing, stylish, and utterly compelling. —Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Crescent
Ferraris offers up a fascinating peek into the lives and minds of devout Muslim men and women while serving up an engrossing mystery ... Highly recommended.
A finely nuanced first novel offering an exceptionally balanced look at male and female perspectives.
With her debut novel, Zoe Ferraris makes a wonderful contribution to the burgeoning genre of ethnographic literary crime fiction. -- Financial Times
"Ferraris writes with authority on how Saudi insiders and outsiders alike perceive the United States ... With equal authority, she stakes her own claim on the world map, opening Saudi Arabia up for mystery fans to reveal the true minds and hearts of its denizens." Los Angeles Times
"The author's canny move using the tried-and-true murder mystery format allows her to sketch a trenchant portrait of Saudi society within an engaging yarn." Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Finding Nouf, Zoe Ferraris's engrossing debut novel, yanks the veil off Saudi Arabian culture while unraveling a compelling murder mystery." The Oregonian
What truly sets this book apart from a detective novel is its prose.
The San Francisco Chronicle
Offers a fascinating glimpse inside domestic Saudi Arabia...a page-turning thriller..."Finding Nouf" turns out to be a great beach read. Cleveland Plain Dealer
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Top Customer Reviews
I was first drawn to Ferraris because I am fascinated by foreign cultures. I loved Kite Runner but was astonished that women were simply absent from this powerful tale. How could this be? Katya and Nayir are a fascinating team with a unique chemistry playing off their respective insights and skills to solve highly unconventional crimes. I certainly hope that Ms Ferraris is working on her next novel because I look forward to spending a lot more time with these two!
What Finding Nouf does is what The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time did for Autism and what The Rosie Project did for Aspergers - it puts people in the mind and perceptions of other types of people who are hard to understand. Finding Nouf is especially important today because most Americans need to come to grips with how Muslims really think and act - the book makes it very accessible and visual and it is easy to imagine that it could create an important movie that might find a large audience. You have to think like a Saudi Muslim to solve the crimes. Nearly all other movies on Muslims are terrorism/CIA (e.g. Syriana) or just annoying (Syrian Bride, Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot). This one actually is a really good story (i.e., Colombo/CSI of Arabia) about day-to-day life in a conservative Muslim country (there are no radicals, terrorists, or terrorism). There is also a very strong and compelling feminist theme smoothly flowing behind the entire story line - like it or not, the very conservative Saudis must learn to live in the 21st century.