Zoe Ferraris’s Detective Fiction: Investigating Saudi Women

Nesreen Al-Harby, King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia;    Abstract: This paper examines the effects of employing genre, detective fiction, on the representation of women in Saudi Arabia through a deep study of Zoe Ferraris’s trilogy: Finding Nouf (2008), City of Veils (2010), and Kingdom of Strangers (2012). I investigate the influence of post-9/11 socio-political context on the Orientalist depiction of Saudi land and people. Hence, I argue that Ferraris’s trilogy depicts Saudi women’s struggle to overcome marginalization and this is achieved through its employment of detective fiction and investigating women’s abuse as much as crime. I contend that the novels’ representation of Saudi women helps overcome the prevailing post-9/11 view of Arab/Muslim women as passive, oppressed and dominated. I further assert that the novels contrast Saudi economic advancement to social backwardness, which is achieved through highlighting conflicts between modernisation and tradition, sexuality and chastity, the public and the private spheres, appearance and reality, and rhetoric and truth. Finally, I demonstrate that despite the novels’ effect in rectifying Saudi women’s image in the West, they end up providing an Orientalist image of Saudi landscape and cities.

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