* A compelling page-turner with a wonderful central character, which also gives a fascinating insight into the closed world of Saudi Arabia
Zoe Ferraris lived in Jeddah for a year as part of a strict Saudi community before returning to live in the United States. She has received an MFA from Columbia University and now lives in San Francisco with her daughter.
** 'Subtle, interesting explorations of sexual and religious repression. Ferrarris ... has a lucid eye for cultural pressures and the sympathy she extends to her (often fearsomely devout) characters makes this both a likeable novel and a timely one' NEW STATESMAN ** 'Ferraris's remarkable debut is a tense psychological drama, and a riveting portrait of everyday life in a society with paranoid attitudes towards women and sex.' SUNDAY TIMES ** 'Gripping ... this is a fascinating mystery, with a complex and likable hero' THE TIMES 'Zoe Ferraris lived for a time in a religious community in Saudi Arabia and has drawn on ** her experiences in The Night of the Mi'raj ... as a portrait of contemporary life in Jeddah, it's a success.' OBSERVER ** 'Ferraris's well-written, sure-footed debut novel is not only an intriguing literary whodunit but also a fascinating window on a world where both men and women (especially the latter) live bizarrely unnatural lives shackled by religion.' MAIL ON SUNDAY ** 'Zoe Ferraris's debut novel arrives in timely fashion. A look at how Saudia Arabia's Muslim mores and sharia laws affect gender relationships, wrapped up in a murder mystery, The Night of the Mi'raj is an antidote to the ever-increasing numbers of books set in Afghanistan or Iraq with war as their subject ... Nayir makes for a compelling hero ... This is not a crime novel, and Ferraris determinedly keeps Nayir away from the cliches of the genre ... [Nayir's and Katya's] interaction is fascinating, always aided by Ferraris's use of well-drawn locations ... Ferraris is also a natural storyteller, with a lightness of touch and a skill for drip-feeding clues to keep the reader turning the pages. It bodes well for Ferraris's future that she can exploit the language of different genres while focusing on well-drawn characters who ultimately power the narrative. INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY ** 'The story crackles like a thriller ... there's much to learn and savour here.' RTE Guide ** 'An intriguing glimpse into a cultured, claustrophobic society' CHOICE ** 'What marks this down as superior fiction is its delicacy. The author is less interested in making simplistic judgements than in capturing the emotional nuances of Saudi life, by turns scary and heart-warming.' MAIL ON SUNDAY ** 'Ferraris's novel gives a vivid insight into an exotic but claustrophobic culture. Her romantic descriptions of the Saudi desert will transport you to another world.' PSYCHOLOGIES ** 'An unusual detective story ... The stultifying atmosphere if Jeddah, its tedium, overwhelming heat, and the onerous restrictions of sharia law contrast delicately with the mysterious calm of the desert, the solemnity of ritual and the possibility of forging friendships in a society as multifaceted as a hall of mirrors' GUARDIAN ** 'The Night of the Mi'raj is tense and insightful, with a twisting plot that immerses the reader in a society that could not be more alien. A brilliant and, at times, disturbing read.' WBQ ** 'The novel is written in a lyrical style and is full of authentic details about life in Jeddah . . well-paced and readable, there are some sharply observed details. TLS ** 'As Nayir is drawn deeper into the novel's well-wrought plot, Zoe Ferraris broadens out what could be a simple detective story into a nuanced look at this claustrophobic and anachronistic society, where women can work as doctors, yet are not allowed to speak to men who aren't family members ... A riveting read.' BIG ISSUE ** 'A compelling mystery in a fascinating setting.' THE GLOSS ** 'With her debut novel, Zoe Ferraris makes a wonderful contribution to the burgeoning genre of ethnographic literary crime fiction ... Set in the seemingly stifling world of contemporary Sauda Arabia, where concern over propriety and righteousness governs all social interaction, this is a whodunit full of an insider's keen observations of place ... Nayir and Katya's subtle attraction illuminates one of the novel's central themes: that stiff hierarchies of decorum are no match for the transformative power of love.' FT ** 'One expects the recent trickly of novel about the Middle East htat are sold in the West to life the veil on that complx society. Zoe Ferraris goes further, combining an engaging, well-placed thriller with an expose of the self-censorship and simmering sexual tension at the heart of modern-day Jeddah ... Much of the novel's charm comes from the character of Nayir ? part reluctant gumshoe, part frustrated bachelor ... This lends a delightfully old-fashioned feel to the novel ... Ferraris writes with admirable compassion about a contemporary dilemma.' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH