Finding Nouf

Finding Nouf

by Zoë Ferraris

Paperback(First Edition)

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Zoë Ferraris’s electrifying debut of taut psychological suspense offers an unprecedented window into Saudi Arabia and the lives of men and women there. When sixteen-year-old Nouf goes missing, along with a truck and her favorite camel, her prominent family calls on Nayir al-Sharqi, a desert guide, to lead a 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 coroner’s 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 to her.

This mission will push gentle, hulking, pious Nayir, a Palestinian orphan raised by his bachelor uncle, to delve into the secret life of a rich, protected teenage girl—in one of the most rigidly gender-segregated of Middle Eastern societies. Initially horrified at the idea of a woman bold enough to bare her face and to work in public, Nayir soon 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 coroner’s office. Their partnership challenges Nayir, bringing him face to face with his desire for female companionship and the limitations imposed by his beliefs. It also ultimately leads them both to surprising revelations. Fast-paced and utterly transporting, Finding Nouf offers an intimate glimpse inside a closed society and a riveting literary mystery.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547237787
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 05/06/2009
Series: Katya Hijazi and Nayir Sharqi Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 367,056
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

ZOË FERRARIS was born in Oklahoma. 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 lives in San Francisco.

Read an Excerpt

Before the sun set that evening, Nayir filled his canteen, tucked a prayer rug beneath his arm, and climbed the south-facing dune near the camp. Behind him came a burst of loud laughter from one of the tents, and he imagined that his men were playing cards, probably tarneeb, and passing the siddiqi around. Years of traveling in the desert had taught him that it was impossible to stop people from doing whatever they liked. There was no law out here, and if the men wanted alcohol, they would drink. It disgusted Nayir that they would wake up on Friday morning, the holy day, their bodies putrefied with gin. But he said nothing. After ten days of fruitless searching, he was not in the mood to chastise.

He scaled the dune at an easy pace, stopping only once he’d reached the crest. From here he had a sprawling view of the desert valley, crisp and flat, surrounded by low dunes that undulated in the golden color of sunset. But his eye was drawn to the blot on the landscape: half a dozen vultures hunched over a jackal’s carcass. It was the reason they’d stopped here — another false lead.

Two days ago they’d given up scouring the desert and started following the vultures instead, but every flock of vultures only brought the sight of a dead jackal or gazelle. It was a relief, of course, but a disappointment too. He still held out hope that they would find her.
Taking his compass from his pocket, he found the direction of Mecca and pointed his prayer rug there. He opened his canteen and took a precautionary sniff . The water smelled tinny. He took a swig, then quickly knelt on the sand to perform his ablutions. He scrubbed his arms, neck, and hands, and when he was finished screwed the canteen tightly shut, relishing the brief coolness of water on his skin.

Standing above the rug, he began to pray, but his thoughts continually turned to Nouf. For the sake of modesty, he tried not to imagine her face or her body, but the more he thought about her, the more vivid she became. In his mind she was walking through the desert, leaning into the wind, black cloak whipping against her sunburned ankles. Allah forgive me for imagining her ankles, he thought. And then: At least I think she’s still alive.

When he wasn’t praying, he imagined other things about her. He saw her kneeling and shoveling sand into her mouth, mistaking it for water. He saw her sprawled on her back, the metal of a cell phone burning a brand onto her palm. He saw the jackals tearing her body to pieces. During prayers he tried to reverse these fears and imagine her still struggling. Tonight his mind fought harder than ever to give life to what felt like a hopeless case.

Prayers finished, he felt more tired than before. He rolled up the rug and sat on the sand at the very edge of the hill, looking out at the dunes that surrounded the valley. The wind picked up and stroked the desert floor, begging a few grains of sand to flaunt its elegance, while the earth shed its skin with a ripple and seemed to take flight. The bodies of the dunes changed endlessly with the winds. They rose into peaks or slithered like snake trails. The Bedouin had taught him how to interpret the shapes to determine the chance of a sandstorm or the direction of tomorrow’s wind. Some Bedouin believed that the forms held prophetic meanings too. Right now the land directly ahead of him formed a series of crescents, graceful half-moons that rolled toward the horizon. Crescents meant change was in the air.

His thoughts turned to the picture in his pocket. Checking to see that no one was coming up the hill behind him, he took the picture out and allowed himself the rare indulgence of studying a woman’s face.

Nouf ash-Shrawi stood in the center of the frame, smiling happily as she cut a slice of cake at her younger sister’s birthday party. She had a long nose, black eyes, and a gorgeous smile; it was hard to imagine that just four weeks after the picture was taken she had run away — to the desert, no less —leaving everything behind: a fi- ancé, a luxurious life, and a large, happy family. She’d even left the five-year-old sister who stood beside her in the picture, looking up at her with heartbreaking adoration. Why? he wondered. Nouf was only sixteen. She had a whole life in front of her.

And where did she go?

When Othman had phoned and told him about his sister’s disappearance, he had sounded weaker than Nayir had ever heard him. “I’d give my blood,” he stammered, “if that would help find her.” In the long silence that followed, Nayir knew he was crying; he’d heard the choke in his voice. Othman had never asked for anything before. Nayir said he would assist.

For many years he had taken thee Shrawi men to the desert. In fact, he’d taken dozens of families just like the Shrawis, and they were all the same: rich and pompous, desperate to prrrrrove that they hadn’t lost their Bedouin birthright even though for most of them the country’s dark wells of petroleum would always be more compelling than its topside. But Othman was different. He was one of the few men who loved the desert as much as Nayir and who had the brains to enjoy his adventures. He didn’t mount a camel until someone told him how to get off . He didn’t get sunburn. He didn’t get lost. Drawn together by a mutual love of the desert, he and Nayir had fallen into an easy friendship that had deepened over the years.

On the telephone Othman was so distraught that the story came out in confusing fragments. His sister was gone. She had run away. Maybe she’d been kidnapped. Because of their wealth, it was possible that someone wanted ransom money — but kidnappings were rare, and there was no ransom note yet. Only a day had passed, but it seemed long enough. Nayir had to pry to get the facts. No one knew exactly when she had left; they only noticed she was missing in the late afternoon. She had last been seen in the morning, when she told her mother she was going to the mall to exchange a pair of shoes. But by evening the family had discovered that other things were gone too: a pickup truck, the new black cloak she was saving for the honeymoon. When they realized that a camel was missing from the stables, they decided she’d run away to the desert.
Her disappearance had taken everyone by surprise. “She was happy,” Othman said. “She was about to get married.” “Maybe she got nervous?” Nayir asked gently.
“No, she wanted this marriage.” If there was more to the story, Othman wasn’t saying.
Nayir spent the next day making preparations. He refused the lavish payment the family offered, taking only what he needed. He hired fifty- two camels, contacted every desert man he knew, and even called the Ministry of the Interior’s Special Services to see if they could track her by military satellite, but their overhead optics were reserved for other things. Still, he managed to compose a search-and-rescue team involving several dozen men and a unit of part-time Bedouin who wouldn’t even look at Nouf’s picture, claiming that they didn’t need to, that there was only one type of woman for whom being stranded in the largest desert in the world was a kind of improvement on her daily life. The men developed a theory that Nouf had eloped with an American lover to escape her arranged marriage. It was hard to say why they all believed the idea. There had been a few cases of rich Saudi girls falling for American men, and they were shocking enough to linger in the collective memory. But it wasn’t as frequent as people supposed, and as far as Nayir knew, no Saudi girl had ever eloped to the desert.
The Shrawis asked Nayir to focus his search on one area of the desert, with radii extending outward from As Sulayyil. They stationed other search parties to the north and northwest, and one to the southwest. He would have liked more liberty to expand his operations at his own discretion, but as it was, he was hemmed in by strangers who seldom bothered to communicate with him. So he ignored the rules. Two days into it, he ordered his men to follow their instincts even if it took them into neighboring territory. If Nouf was still out there, her chances of survival decreased with every hour of daylight. This was no time to be formal, as if the search were a wedding dinner and the guests should be seated on their cushions just so.
Besides, his team was the largest, and although he didn’t often do search-and-rescue, he knew the desert better than most. He’d practically grown up in the desert. His uncle Samir had raised him, and Samir kept foreign friends: scholars, scientists, men who came to study the Red Sea, the birds and the fish, or the Bedouin way of life. Nayir spent summers chipping dirt on archaeological digs for rich Europeans who sought the tomb of Abraham or the remains of the gold that the Jews had carried from Egypt. He spent winters clutching the rear humps of camels, clattering through the sand with tin pots and canteens. He became an archer, a falconer, a survivalist of sorts who could find his way home from remote locations needing only a headscarf, water, and the sky. He wasn’t a Bedouin by blood, but he felt like one.
He’d never failed to find a lost traveler. If Nouf had run away, he had to assume that she didn’t want to be found. For ten days they scoured the dunes in Rovers, on camels, from airplanes and choppers, and frequently they found each other, which caused some relief, hard as it was to find anything living in all of that sand. But they did not find Nouf, and finally the reports that Nayir’s men placed before him began to suggest alternative theories in which she’d taken an overnight bus to Muscat or boarded an airplane for Amman.
He cursed the situation. Maybe she’d spent a night in the wild and decided it was too uncomfortable, too dirty, and she’d moved on. Yet Nayir feared that she had stayed, and now it was too late. It only took two days for a man to die in the desert. For a young girl from a wealthy family, a girl who had probably never left the comfort of an air-conditioned room, it would take less time than that.
The sunset showered the landscape in a warm orange light, and a stiff sirocco troubled the air. It stirred a sharp longing that reached beyond his concerns for Nouf. Lately he’d been overcome by thoughts of what was missing in his life. Irrationally, he felt that it wasn’t only Nouf he’d lost, it was the possibility of finding any woman. Closing his eyes, he asked Allah once again: What is Your plan for me? I trust in Your plan, but I’m impatient. Please reveal Your design.
Behind him came a shout. Quickly stuffing the picture back in his pocket, he stood up and saw one of his men at the bottom of the hill, pointing at a pair of headlights in the distance. Nayir grabbed his rug and canteen and scrambled down the dune. Someone was coming, and a desperate foreboding told him that it was bad news. He jogged along the bottom of the dune and waited as the Rover drove into camp. It stopped beside the largest tent.
Nayir didn’t recognize the young man at the wheel. He looked like a Bedouin with his sharp features and dark skin. He was wearing a leather bomber jacket over his dusty white robe, and when he stepped out of the car, he regarded Nayir with apprehension. Nayir welcomed the guest and extended his hand. He knew he was too big and imposing to put anyone at ease, but he tried. Nervously, the boy introduced himself as Ibrahim Suleiman, a son of one of the Shrawi servants. The men gathered around, waiting for the news, but Ibrahim stood quietly, and Nayir realized that he wanted to speak in private.
He led the boy into the tent, praying that the men hadn’t been drinking after all. There was no worse way to disgrace oneself than to lead a man into a tent that smelled like alcohol. But the tent doors were open and the wind blew in, along with a generous spray of sand.
Inside, Nayir lit a lamp, offered his guest a floor cushion, and began preparing tea. He refrained from asking questions, but he hurried through the tea because he was eager to hear the news. Once it was ready, Nayir sat cross-legged beside his guest and waited for him to drink first.
Once the second cup had been poured, Ibrahim leaned forward and balanced his teacup on his knee. “They found her,” he said, his eyes lowered. “They did?” The tension drained out of Nayir so suddenly that it hurt. “Where?” “About two kilometers south of the Shrawi campsite. She was in a wadi.” “They’ve had men there for a week. Are they certain it’s her?” “Yes.” “Who found her?” “We’re not sure. Someone who wasn’t working for the family. Travelers.” “How do you know this?” “Tahsin’s cousin Majid came to our camp and delivered the news. He’d spoken to the coroner.” Ibrahim took another sip of his tea. “He said that the travelers took her back to Jeddah. She was already dead.” “Dead?” “Yes.” Ibrahim sat back. “The travelers took her to the coroner’s office in Jeddah. They had no idea who she was.” It was over. He thought about his men outside, wondered if they would feel relief or disappointment. Probably relief. He wasn’t sure what to tell them about the girl. It was odd that the family’s own search party had been stationed near the wadi. A group of cousins and servants must have been right on top of her, yet they had missed her completely. They had also missed whoever had been traveling through the area. The travelers must have returned her body to the city before the Shrawis had even figured out that they’d passed through. All of this made Nayir uneasy, but he would have to double-check the information; it wasn’t exactly reliable.
“How did the family find out about it?” he asked.
“Someone at the coroner’s office knows the family and called them to break the news.” Nayir nodded, still feeling numb. The teapot was empty. Slowly he stood and went to the stove. He poured more water into the pot and lit the match for the stove with a clumsy twitch, burning the tip of his thumb. The sharpness of the pain lit a spark inside him, a quick, fierce anger. The urge to find her was still strong. Forgive me for my pride, he thought. I should think about the family now. But he couldn’t.
He went back and sat down. “Do you know how she died?” “No.” There was a sad acceptance in the boy’s eyes. “Heat stroke, I imagine.” “It’s a terrible way to die,” Nayir said. “I can’t help thinking there’s something we could have done.” “I doubt it.” “Why?” Nayir asked. “What do you think happened to her?” The Bedouin looked him straight in the eye. “Same thing that happens to any girl, I think.” “And what’s that?” Nayir asked. Love? Sex? What do you know about it? Ibrahim’s face told him that it had been wrong to ask; the boy was blushing. Nayir wanted to know more, to pry the answers out of him, but he knew too that if Nouf’s death had happened because of love or sex, then any truthful reply would be less proper still. Modestly, he waited for an elaboration, but Ibrahim merely sipped his tea, resolute in his silence.

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Finding Nouf 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent book devling into the cloistered lives of men and women in Saudi Arabia. I had pages and pages of emphathy to all the main characters and loved the descriptions of the desert and life in front of and behind a burqa. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I haven't been captured by a novel like this in ages. The story, the writing, the cultural information, I could not put it down. This is truly an unforgettable read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great book about the lives of women in Saudi Ababia. A wonderful mystery, that kept me in suspense till the very end. I highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fascinating read about the murder of a young Saudi Arabian girl from a wealthy family. The main characters, a female lab technician who is mostly veiled, and a Bedouin - Palestinian guide of the desert set out to solve this mystery and will capture your heart and your imagination. Pictures of Saudi life are an initmate look at the rich and poor by an author who has personal knowledge of this changing society. A wonderful page turner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ferraris displays a love of the desert, describing both the beauty and danger with poetic images. I really enjoyed her characterizations and the inner thought processes of the main protagonists - after reading this book, I feel as though I have a better understanding of Conservative Islam.
Tigerpaw70 More than 1 year ago
Also published under the title "The Night of the Mir'aj " Book1 in the Katya Hijazi series This is an unusual and engaging detective mystery that takes us inside Saudi Arabia, to the heart of a society normally closed to outsiders, thus offering a fascinating and riveting glimpse into the stricter side of the Islamic culture. The story is basically a run of the mill mystery but what makes it stand above many in its genre is the manner in which the author has conveyed her thoughts on a segment of Saudi life. This exquisitely written tale is told with respect, without judgement and from both female and male perspectives skilfully drawing the reader into the psyche of the author's finely portrayed protagonists. The suspense starts with sixteen year old Nouf disappearing from her house days before her arranged marriage and under murky circumstances. Could she have been kidnapped or has she run away? Her brother Othman seeks help from his trusted friend Nayir and asks him to investigate. A week into the investigation, Nayir and his Bedouin comrades discover Nouf's body in the desert outside Jeddah, but this leaves many questions to be answer. The coroner quickly rules Nouf's death an accident but lab assistant, Katya Hijazi, feels there is more to the story and shares her thoughts with Nayir. The fact that Nouf was pregnant and had defensive wounds sets off alarm bells, how can this be considered an accident? Katya and Nayir lead the reader through a maze of Saudi customs to find out what really happened.. "Finding Nouf" is fast paced and loaded with twists and turns, very entertaining and captivating from start to finish
Try_only_to_read_the_best More than 1 year ago
Not only is there is ther enough suspense and plots twists to satisfy anyone who loves crime thrillers, what you learnn about women's lives in Saudi Arabia is worth the reading of the book alone. Plus you learn it in the most fun way -- trying to figure out what is going on. Please read this book just so you can read her seoond book "City of Veils" , which is even better but butter read after the first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finding Nouf shows you the hidden life behind the Muslim culture. This book is an adventure full of twists and turns. Finding Nouf showed me the different types of lives all around the world. The book keeps you hooked until the end to find out what happened. Finding Nouf also expands your horizion on different religions and religious views. THis book is a great read and is good for anyone.
Anonymous 9 months ago
This spell binding mystery takes place in modern day Saudi Arabia, focusing on the death of a wealthy pregnant 16 year old woman. It seems to show life as lived today in the kingdom. It grabs your attention from the start.
DowntownLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well written detective novel with sensitive observations of life in Saudi Arabia.
amanderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great mystery set in Saudi Arabia. A 16-year-old girl from a wealthy & very religious Saudi family has gone missing just before her wedding. Her brother asks his friend Nayir to find her. Nayir is a devout Muslim & Saudi-Palestinian-semi-adopted-Bedouin desert guide, and when the girl is found drowned, he investigates the cause. Also investigating is Katya, a not-so-devout Saudi woman working at the medical examiner's office. It's the depiction of the culture and interactions between men and women that are really interesting here; the murder mystery is almost secondary. The story moves along quickly and is well paced. Recommended! It would get five stars except the resolution of the mystery feels somewhat improbable and not quite satisfying. Looks like it will be a series.
devilish2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gorgeously evocative novel - a gentle, sensitive portrayal of Islam and its meaning to individuals while enquiries are made to find who killed Nouf and why.
rfewell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pretty good mystery-ish story. I thought it would be a good companion to Crescent.
Smiley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So-so mystery but excellent feel for characters and place. The characters Ferraris draws are life-like and behave with humanity. Her descriptions and details of Saudi and the desert ring true. I hope she writes more, maybe not confined by they mystery genre. If she does write another mystery with this duo, much like Dorothy L. Sayers, I will read it.
ethel55 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nouf is found in the first few pages of the novel, but that isn't really the point. There are many ways in which Nouf's family "find" her in this novel and the mysterious life she wanted to lead. Nayir, former Palestinian turned Saudi desert guide, is hired by Nouf's brother Othman to look into her death. Nayir must face his culture's rules about women, as he tries to investigate without upsetting cultural mores and teaming up with Othman's rather forward-thinking intended, Katya, who works at the coroner's office.
LaBibliophille on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I chose this first novel by Zoe Ferraris as part of the Book Awards Reading Challenge. It is a winner of the Alex Award, which is given by the American Library Association to books that are written for adults but have some special appeal to young adults.Finding Nouf is set in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It is an unusual detective story. A 16 year old woman from a wealthy family disappears, and her body is found in the desert. Did she run away, or was she abducted? There was no ransom demand, and the official cause of death was drowning. Nouf was found in a wadi by Bedouins after an infrequent desert rainstorm. But why would Nouf run away? She was planning her upcoming wedding, and seemed happy.Nouf¿s brother, Othman, contacts his old friend and desert guide, Nayir ash-Sharqi, to find Nouf. After the body is found, Nayir begins to investigate Nouf¿s disappearance and death with the help of Katya, Othman¿s fiancee who, conveniently, works for the medical examiner.This quest for the truth is complicated by the simple facts of life in Saudi society. How could a young woman disappear, when women are not allowed to appear unescorted in public? This is especially true for young women in wealthy families, who have full-time escorts/drivers. How could Nouf have taken a family¿s truck, when women are forbidden by law to drive? And how can Katya and Nayir work together on this case, when they are not allowed to be seen together?Finding Nouf gives us a glimpse of Saudi life, and how the structure of society and the laws of the land keep women undereducated, housebound and, often, miserable. This book was very well written. It is a good mystery, with plenty of red herrings. It will take you a while to figure out who done it. I highly recommend this book.
writestuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nayir ash-Sharqi, a desert guide, is hired by the Shrawi family to locate a family member who has disappeared. Nouf, only sixteen years old and planning her wedding, appears to have run away into the desert. But when her body is found in a wadi and the coroner reveals her cause of death as drowning, disturbing questions arise. Nayir joins forces with Katya Hijazi, a lab worker at the coroner¿s office who is like no woman he has ever met. Together they begin to piece together Nouf¿s last days and hours to uncover the mystery surrounding her death.Finding Nouf is at its heart a mystery, but it is also more than this. Set in modern Saudi Arabia, the novel explores the role of women in a gender-segregated society which clings to its history while at the same time must address the changing views of the women it seeks to control and protect. Nayir is a devote man who prays regularly and wishes to follow the laws of Allah; but he is also a bachelor who fantasizes of one day finding a woman with whom he can share his life.Nayir¿s conflicted feelings provide the tension in the book. At first I disliked Nayir, finding him rigidly pious and chauvinistic. Ferraris does a remarkable job turning Nayir from a largely distasteful character to one the reader begins to respect. It is Nayir¿s growth as a man (who comes to see women as human beings with dreams, desires and individual strengths) which elevates the novel to more than a simple whodunnit.Katya represents the modern Saudi woman ¿ a woman who has her own job and dares to speak to men not related to her. It is through her that the reader begins to gain a deeper understanding of Nouf ¿ a teenager from a wealthy family who yearns for freedom.Zoe Ferraris once lived in Saudi Arabia during the time following the first Gulf War. At that time, she was married to a Saudi-Palestinian Bedouin and was exposed to a culture largely closed to Americans. Knowing this about the author gave me respect for the perspective of this novel which although seen mostly through the eyes of the lead male character, exposes the dreams and desires of women living in a paternalistic society.Ferraris¿ writing is clean and riveting. The core mystery (what actually happened to Nouf) has many twists and turns which kept me guessing right to the end. This is a novel I would classify as ¿literary mystery¿ as its focus is as much on its main characters (and their growth) as on the mystery which propels the story.Readers who enjoy a good mystery, as well as literary fiction, will enjoy this look inside the Saudi culture.Recommended.
jgoitein on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Finding Nouf is an Alex Award winning title for 2009. What appeal does this book written for adults hold for a young adult reader? First, it is a mystery, a who done it, that sends students on a quest to find the killer. Second, the victim, Nouf, is a privileged sixteen year old Saudi girl from a wealthy Bedouin family who was about to be married. Her personality and secret desires are unraveled as the clues about her death are revealed. Her longing for love, education and independence are universal qualities young girls can identify with. Third, it takes place in an exotic locale where the sands shift and camels roam to the seaside marinas to hear jet skis hum in the distance. Nouf is first believed to be kidnapped, then found dead in the desert. Her death is called an accidentenial drowning by the coroner's office. No ramson note was sent to the family. Why does she have a head injury? Why is she buried so she is facing away from Mecca? I s this a sign she was expecting a child at the time of her death? Who would want to harm her?All these questions are left to Nayir, a Palestinian desert guide, and Katya, a lab technician at the coroner's office, to gather and piece together evidence and theorize a motive for Nouf''s death. It is with the two characters, Nayir and Katya, that first time author Zoe Ferraris developes unique multidimensional protagonists. It is through their eyes and thougths that the reader gets an exacting look at the culture of the wealthy and religious of Saudi Arabia of today. It helps that the American Ferrais was married to a Bedouni from a large extended family and lived for a while in Saudi Arabia. She conveys with great detail the desert guide Nayir, a religious Muslum, who comes to terms with his loneliness and his thoughts, often unpure, of women and their role in modern Saudi society, and how he can best interact with them without bringing out the religious police. Katya is that modern young Saudi woman, who still wears her burqa when necessary, but prefers to go without it. She is the voice of educated women who are defining a new place for women in a very patriachical society. As the fiance of Nouf's brother Oshman, she is asked by him to work with Nayir to test DNA samples found at the crime scene. As a mystery genre, much attention is paid to going over the clues over and over again. Ferrais seems to use this as a device to end a chapter at what seems like a dead end, but then pick up new clues and meaning in a following chapter. It works well as the reader is entralled in this strange world of men and women, even of the same family , leading very different lives in a society few Westerns have privy to.
Asperula on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good read combing a murder mystery and cultural issues.
BookishDame on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic novel of a missing girl who is betrothed to a young man in an arranged marriage, then found murdered. One of the best things about this novel is the wonderful detail having to do with the culture and contrast of Muslim traditions with the slow progression of modern thinking. I would love to read anything else by this author. Her writing style is superb.
camelliacorner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is called :The night of the Mi'raj", must be the title for Australian audiences. Learnt much about Saudi Arabian culture and the inequality of women that exits in this country. A story that got better as you read into it
Lillian3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An intriguing look into the complex relationships between men and women in Saudi Arabia. Solving the mystery behind the death of a teenage girl in the desert hooked me as a reader, but watching the bond develop between Nayir and Katya (he's a conservative, Palestinian desert guide/sleuth; she has a PHD and works in the womens' section of the state examiner's office) kept me up all night.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in Saudi Arabia, Finding Nouf by Zoë Ferraris is a wonderful tale about the mystery surrounding the disappearance and death of a young Saudi girl. I loved every aspect of this book. The mystery was engrossing, the twist of the victim being drowned out in the desert was intriguing, and as the plot develops and the life of this young sixteen year old is slowly revealed, the story spreads in many directions. The author, who has lived in the Arab world, writes about this extremely mysterious country in a realistic and eye-opening way. The two central characters are themselves a wonderful contrast. The non-detective that the family hired to investigate is a pious Muslim that tries to live his life by embracing the strict religious laws, yet is a lonely man who yearns for romance. The woman who assists him in the investigation, medical examiner Katya is a more modern woman who lives under the strict rules but often finds ways to circumvent them. As with all good mysteries I found my suspicions being turned on one character after another following with the twists of the story. All in all, a great read and I highly recommend it.
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