23 August 2007 0 Comments

Saudi detective coming from Houghton Mifflin

I’ve just read an advance copy of a terrific new mystery that’ll be out next year from Houghton Mifflin. Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris opens a detailed window into the daily life of rich Saudis. That’s a culture often caricatured or vilified. I’m delighted that Ferraris has lifted the veil on this repressed, yet fascinating culture, through a mystery based around the disappearance of a young girl. Her detective, Nayir Sharqi, is a desert guide from Jeddah but, true to contemporary Arabia, almost none of the action goes on in the desert. Instead, he spends his time as a nervous interloper in the compounds of the rich and in restaurants where men and women are allowed the forbidden frisson of actually dining together. I’d say Ferraris aims at some of the same things I’m going for in my series about Palestinian detective Omar Yussef — to show readers the reality of Middle Eastern daily life behind the hate-filled headlines we see in our newspapers.

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