By (author): Niloufar-Lily Soltani

In the winter of 2007, Zulaikha is travelling from Amsterdam to Tehran when she is approached by Kia, a family acquaintance she hasn’s seen for many years, who is on the same flight. Kia’s father has passed away and she is flying home to attend his funeral. In a shocking twist, Zulaikha suspects that Kia may have had information about her missing brother, Hessam, and their mutual friend, Abbass, who was murdered before Hessam’s disappearance during the Iran and Iraq War.

When the flight is suddenly cancelled, and Zulaikha is later taken into custody and questioned about her relationship with Kia by both the European and Iranian authorities, who ultimately confiscate her passport, a tense thriller unfolds revealing the impacts of war and the consequences for one young woman unknowingly caught in the crossfire of greed, power, and international politics.

This sweeping novel explores many timely topics including issues related to gender, class, race, and interracial marriage. It also sheds light on the tumultuous history of Iran from a new perspective. The novel reveals a forty-year period of war and upheaval in the Middle East, and specifically, in Zulaikha’s home territory of Khuzestan, which boasts the bulk of Iran’s oil reserves, a place of intense tension between Iran and the U.S. still today.


Niloufar-Lily Soltani

Niloufar-Lily Soltani (Lily) is a literary and crime fiction writer and poet. Her poems have been published in magazines such as Strange Horizons and Dissident Voices. Zulaikha is Lily’s debut novel. She lives in Vancouver, BC.


Zulaikha is an often suspenseful and always emotionally striking account of the inescapable reach of a violent history, and the grip that political realities have over personal truths.”
—Naben Ruthnum/Nathan Ripley, author of Find You in The Dark and Your Life is Mine

“A hauntingly moving and brilliant book that paints a portrait of longing, heartache, love and hope. Zulaikha is an ambitious and powerful debut novel from a brave new voice bringing attention to the politics in Iran and how lives are affected, especially the lives of women. With sensitivity, Niloufar-Lily Soltani weaves a tale of courage, betrayal and forgiveness. Fast-paced and well-written, this story captures you from its first page and carries you along like the achingly beautiful notes of the oud.”
—Sonia Saikaley, author of The Allspice Bath


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256 Pages
8.25in * 5.50in * .59in


November 09, 2023



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FICTION / Own Voices

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