Celestial Bodies – Jokha Alharthi

Celestial bodies – Winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize⁣

The first novel by a Omani woman to be translated to English! The story follows the lives of three sisters and their families who embody the intense transformation of Oman, decades after achieving its independence from Britain in 1951. As readers, we progressively witness the impact of Oman’s exposure to the West on the lives of these women, who are torn apart by the search for a balance between tradition and new freedoms.⁣

Exploring the space between memory and forgetting, the author examines family secrets as a “chaos of familial orbits and conjunctions” stuck in a gravitational significance of their own.⁣

I read this book both in Arabic and in English, for I wanted to see how the poetic language and metaphors used in Arabic would be translated. I must admit that I am not sure I did like this book… the story was interesting but the structure left me confused and forced to check the family tree at the beginning every time a new character was mentioned. ⁣

The language used is indeed very beautiful, yet I longed for a better grasp of the constant moves from past to present. Since it is a special book for being the first Arabic novel winning the Man Booker International Prize, I still recommend reading it so you can get an idea of the author’s style. ⁣

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