Book Review: Finding Nouf – Zoe Ferraris

Title: Finding Nouf
Author: Zoe Ferraris
ISBN: 9780547237787
Pages: 320
Release Date: June 20, 2008
Publisher: Mariner Books
Genre: Mystery, Multicultural Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

When a sixteen year old girl named Nouf goes missing in Saudi Arabia just a few days before her wedding, her wealthy family contacts Nayir al-Sharqi, a Palestinian and friend of the family, to investigate her disappearance.  Nayir’s search takes him through all classes of Saudi Arabia and forces him to interact with women, something he isn’t quite comfortable with.

Review:

I’d heard great things about Finding Nouf and have been wanting to read it for some time.  When its sequel, City of Veils arrived on my doorstep, it moved to the top of my list.  I was eager to delve into the mysterious and difficult world of Saudi Arabia in order to solve the mystery of Nouf’s disappearance.

Finding Nouf was an exquisitely written novel that I can’t praise highly enough.  It is a literary mystery, rather than a thriller, and Ferraris takes the time to create a vivid setting.  For most Western audiences, what life is like in Saudi Arabia, especially for women, is a big question mark.  Ferraris lifts the veil (metaphorically and literally) from this cloistered world, and gives the reader a real sense of the mechanisms of every day life in this country.  It’s also nice to read a book about the Middle East that doesn’t focus on war.  Instead, this is a quiet novel that provides a glimpse into Saudi Arabian life.

The main character, Nayir, is a contradiction.  He’s a very good man, honest and principled, yet he cannot interact with women.  Through Nayir, we see how much women are considered second-class citizens in Saudi Arabian societies.  He describes men who consider themselves unclean if they even see a woman after performing their ablutions.  Nayir himself has some of these same reservations – he becomes incredibly embarrassed for a woman if he sees her with her face uncovered because it isn’t “proper”.  He’s the type of person that would infuriate me had I met him on the street, and yet Ferraris portrays him so well that it’s difficult to dislike him.  I loved how his eyes opened as the book progressed and his judgments and principles were called into question.  Ferraris really put a human face on the extremely conservative Muslim, and I appreciated that she broadened my worldview.

The mystery in Finding Nouf was merely the icing on the cake.  The setting and intriguing main character were enough to make me want to read this book, yet Ferraris also crafted an engrossing puzzle for the reader.  It made the book incredibly enjoyable and difficult to put down.

I can’t recommend Finding Nouf highly enough.  Zoe Ferraris did an exceptional job with this novel – each aspect of it is exquisitely crafted.  I cannot wait to read the sequel, and am very hopeful that this will become a full-fledged series.

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Comments

  1. I love books like this…where it is more about the journey and the characters, and the fact there is a mystery just adds to the beauty of the thing. All the better if the setting is somewhere interesting. I’m intrigued.

    BTW, congrats on the win!!!!

  2. I love books like this…where it is more about the journey and the characters, and the fact there is a mystery just adds to the beauty of the thing. All the better if the setting is somewhere interesting. I’m intrigued.

    BTW, congrats on the win!!!!

  3. That’s the way I like my mysteries- as an excuse for more meditative fiction. In a way, it reminds me of The Sultan’s Seal, where a mystery was merely a way to get several interesting characters together in an interesting setting.

  4. That’s the way I like my mysteries- as an excuse for more meditative fiction. In a way, it reminds me of The Sultan’s Seal, where a mystery was merely a way to get several interesting characters together in an interesting setting.

  5. I’ve been wanting to read this one ever since I read City of Veils!

  6. I’ve been wanting to read this one ever since I read City of Veils!

  7. I’ve heard some really great things about this author and series. I really must pick them up at some point!

  8. I’ve heard some really great things about this author and series. I really must pick them up at some point!

  9. I had no idea that City of Veils had a precursor! I am definitely looking forward to reading it now based on your review. Thanks!

  10. I had no idea that City of Veils had a precursor! I am definitely looking forward to reading it now based on your review. Thanks!

  11. I read this one last year and liked it very much.

    http://www.semicolonblog.com/?p=4140

    I didn’t know that there was a sequel out.

  12. I read this one last year and liked it very much.

    http://www.semicolonblog.com/?p=4140

    I didn’t know that there was a sequel out.

  13. This looks good. Going to see if my library has it. I am thinking it is likely no because I seem to recall another review of this book that made me want to read it, but still going to check. 🙂

  14. This looks good. Going to see if my library has it. I am thinking it is likely no because I seem to recall another review of this book that made me want to read it, but still going to check. 🙂

  15. I’ve heard lots of great things about this book too. And I’ve got this sitting on my TBR pile. So should really get to it soon, right?;)

  16. I’ve heard lots of great things about this book too. And I’ve got this sitting on my TBR pile. So should really get to it soon, right?;)

  17. OMG!!!! Must. Read. I just checked and the sequel is on audio, too. I’m so excited about this. It sounds amazing 🙂

  18. OMG!!!! Must. Read. I just checked and the sequel is on audio, too. I’m so excited about this. It sounds amazing 🙂

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