Synopses & Reviews
Fast-paced and utterly transporting, Finding Nouf is a riveting literary mystery and an unprecedented window into the lives of men and women in Saudi Arabia.
When sixteen-year-old Nouf goes missing, her prominent family calls on Nayir al-Sharqi, a pious desert guide, to lead the search party. Ten days later, just as Nayir is about to give up in frustration, her body is discovered by anonymous desert travelers. But when the coroners office determines that Nouf died not of dehydration but from drowning, and her family seems suspiciously uninterested in getting at the truth, Nayir takes it upon himself to find out what really happened. He quickly realizes that if he wants to gain access to the hidden world of women, he will have to join forces with Katya Hijazi, a lab worker at the coroners office who is bold enough to bare her face and to work in public. Their partnership challenges Nayir and forces him to reconcile his desire for female companionship within the parameters imposed by his beliefs.
"Whats remarkable about this debut is that its mystery takes place within a culture that is largely under wraps ... The thriller plot is well-placed. But its the individual journeys of Nayir and Katya, who abide by societys strictures even as they are frustrated by them, that elevate Finding Nouf to a larger human drama." Entertainment Weekly
"[Ferraris] weaves a richly detailed tapestry of the countrys gender-segregated and pious Muslim culture." Washington Post
"The authors 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 Ferrariss engrossing debut novel, yanks the veil off Saudi Arabian culture while unraveling a compelling murder mystery." The Oregonian
"Reads like a breeze ... Ferraris offers a fascinating glimpse inside domestic Saudi Arabia. Even better, she has written a fascinating thriller, not only an academic treatment. Finding Nouf turns out to be a great beach read." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"A finely tuned character study ... both particularly well-crafted and readily accessible for American readers. Just make sure you turn up the air-conditioning before sitting down to read."
"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."
"In Finding Nouf,
first-time novelist [Zoe Ferraris] gives us an imaginative and closely observed murder mystery set in the Saudi port town of Jeddah, a literary detective novel that balances the pleasures of plot with finely milled prose ... As a good detective novel should, Finding Nouf
visits all the nooks and crannies of society ... Characters a lesser writer would skim over with a few generic adjectives come alive in Ferraris's hands and pull you into their world. But what truly sets this book apart from a detective novel is its prose."
Finding Nouf is an astounding feat of storytelling, a gripping novel that also explores with unsparing, sympathetic insight how the men and women of Saudi Arabias new generation struggle with their modernizing yet still traditional society. Azadeh Moaveni, author of Lipstick Jihad
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 Ferrariss novel lifts the veil on the repressed personal lives of Saudi Arabias rich, giving us unparalleled insight into daily life in an oft-caricatured cultureand 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 youve finished. Katya and Nayirs 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
About the Author
This is ZOË FERRARIS's first novel. She moved to Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the first gulf war to live with her then husband and his extended family of Saudi-Palestinian Bedouins, who had never welcomed an American into their lives before. She has an MFA from Columbia University and currently lives in San Francisco.