At 19 she met a Saudi-Palestinian Bedouin studying English in
. They married and had a daughter. After the birth of their daughter in 1991 they went for a short visit to his family in America and stayed for almost a year. In a very interesting interview at the BookBrowse website she said: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
You have to stay until his mother stops having heart episodes every time you go to the airport
While there she was a keen observer of life in
. Saudi Arabia
After returning home to the
the marriage ended. Zoë and her daughter stayed in United States . Her former husband returned to America and married a woman found for him by his mother. Saudi Arabia
She has written 3 books set in
. Saudi Arabia
I read the first book, Finding Nouf, and liked the book. I thought it provided a vivid picture of life in the Kingdom. Parts of the book would challenge traditional roles for Saudi women. I wondered about official reaction to the book. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, she said there has been no official reaction.
In the BookBrowse interview she described a confrontation with the religious police while she lived in
: Saudi Arabia
Women weren't allowed to leave the house alone. If you did, you'd get chased around by the religious police, maybe smacked with a camel whip. One guy went after me with his shoe. When I caught the shoe and ran in the house, he stood at the window and asked for it back.
She had an interesting comment on the burqa in the Haaretz interview:
That's a broad question. My sense is that most Muslim women are on the fence, honestly, about the burka. It's part of their cultural and religious identity, and there's something galling about having someone tell you not to [wear] it. On the other hand, wearing a burka is annoying, it's not natural, so one can easily think, let's get rid of it. Among the women that I know, most are ambivalent, and I'm inclined to agree with those mixed feelings. I wouldn't wear it in
, but I do wear one when I'm in the America Middle East. I'm glad that it's become an issue of debate, as it has opened up a discussion worldwide. But suddenly a bunch of women who might not have been asking questions will decide, yes, I will do it.
There are plenty of Muslim countries where plenty of women don't cover themselves. I meet Muslims who are newly arrived in
, and they say that U.S. Muslims are especially radicalized. There's a real polemic about it here, with people insisting on it as a matter of identity. Many women get pushed into a corner to cover their heads. America
She is currently working on a YA adult book, Memory of Seas.
As set out above I enjoyed Finding Nouf and expect to read more of the series. In my review of Finding Nouf I found it a thoughtful mystery especially in the way Zoë tested the attitudes towards women of her sleuth, Nayir ash-Sharqi, when he actually spent time working with Katya Hijazi, a woman who was not at home, but a lab technician in the coroner’s office.