Set in a post-contagion Mideast, ROOM 100 is a 91,000-word speculative novel about a young mother trying to escape the infamous Quarantine Zone with her child. It combines the brisk pace of Middle Eastern genre stories such as Zoe Ferraris’s City of Veils with the upmarket writing style of Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke.
Forty years after a global pandemic, peace and prosperity in Middle East come at a cost—the sick and their descendants, as well as political exiles, are banished to the walled Quarantine Zone. Rabia is a young mother and the daughter of its powerful medical director, and when she threatens to expose her father’s corruption, he sends her away to the Zone.
Rabia takes work in Room 100, the medical clinic at a girls’ school. The school belongs to Hanbal, a thug who governs the neighborhood, and Rabia learns that it’s an asset in a dangerous political game: he’s marrying the girls off to forge alliances against the soldiers in charge. Rabia’s objections put her and her daughter in danger.
She finds an ally in Um Sahar, the school’s headmistress and Hanbal’s own wife. Um Sahar is an ambiguous and powerful political figure, and until now, Rabia has hidden her identity as the daughter of the most hated man in the Zone. But when Um Sahar discovers this, Rabia must choose whom to defend as the situation in the Zone escalates toward all-out revolt: her daughter or the girls whose childhoods are being sacrificed to fight an oppressive political order. ROOM 100 explores what it means to defend or betray one’s gender, and the compromises a mother makes for her child.