For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

SNAX ONLINE is moving during the first quarter of 2011 -- stay tuned!

Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Finding Gold in a wealth of cultures --

As many of you know, DIVERSITY INTERESTS ME—I like to see a wide range of variations on a theme from artists, authors, chefs, filmmakers, and travelers, and I come away feeling completely enriched by the experience. Usually one of these discoveries has my synapses zapping through my brain like marbles in a pinball machine!

Recently, catching up on my reading for the next issue of FEAST the eZine, I came across FINDING NOUF, written by Zoë Ferraris and published by Houghton Mifflin this year. One of the first things I do when beginning a ne book about another culture is turn to the back inside leaf of the cover and read about the author. I want to know what gives this writer the creds to write authentically about a culture not his or her own. This is Ferraris’s first novel. She moved to Saudi Arabia right after the first Gulf War to live with her then husband and his extended family of Saudi-Palestinian Bedouins—there was shock and awe on both sides from what I gather. But it certainly gave Zoë an inside look at how at least one group of Saudi’s think, about their world and cultural viewpoint.

Finding Nouf is a mystery, but so much more! The search for a missing 16-year-old from a wealthy and privileged Saudi family is couched in a setting seldom seen by readers in the West and written beautifully, with depth and compassion.

We frequently hear and read about the complexity of a culture that goes to bizarre extremes to “protect and shelter” their women (and for whose benefit?). But have you ever considered what it is like for decent men who want to “go by the rules,” yet find no social outlets for meeting women to marry beyond their family’s choices? And how does a woman with less-than-traditional desires for her life find an acceptable path? This never discussed challenge for men in such a culture to marry and to interact with traditional men and women as well as an emerging female work force, and the challenges for a woman who wants more than the narrow path allowed most women in predominantly Muslim countries are all themes and subtext woven skillfully throughout this gripping story.

This kind of fiction allows us to better understand how others think about everyday events, help us to bridge the divide between cultures, and ultimately reveals that, despite different strokes for different folks, what is really at the heart of the human search for meaning is without borders.

– Rosemary Carstens


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your blog about Finding Nouf. I've done a little fiction reading in this realm (like The Bookseller of Kabul) and usually find it hard to take. Did she paint a picture of a male dominated society that I might read without cringing? Karen Albright Lin

ClaireWalter said...

The societal goal of "bridging the divide between cultures" is worthy, but in this time in history, it seems to be limited to those who are open-minded and tolerant to begin with. So many people/families/ethnic groups/nations seem to be doing all they can to emphasize differences, rationalize intolerance and try to exclude others from their tight world. I believe in the pendulum swing and hope that we as a fear-drivien nation and a world have swung as far as we can in the exclusion direction and can begin the swing back to rationality and tolerance. Hopefully, books like this will help some people understand....

Claire @ http://travel-babel.blogspot.com