Wednesday, 21 Aug 2019 | 20 Dhul Hijjah 1440
Booker award for Jokha

Booker award for Jokha

Celestial Bodies
, written by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth from Arabic and published by Sandstone Press, was announced on Tuesday as the winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2019 in London. The £50,000 prize, which celebrates the finest functions of translated fiction from about the planet, is divided equally among its author and translator. “I am thrilled that a window has been opened to the rich Arabic culture,” Jokha stated right after the ceremony at the Roundhouse in London.

Celestial Bodies
, translated from the original Omani novel Sayyidat al-Qamar
, was amongst the six books shortlisted for the prize. This year’s Man Booker International Prize shortlist featured six books translated from 5 languages, hailing from 5 nations and 3 continents, but only a single male writer alongside 5 female authors and an all-female list of translators.

Jokha Alharthi poses right after winning the Man Booker International Prize for Celestial Bodies in London on Tuesday (AFP)

Celestial Bodies
 tells of loved ones connections and history in the coming-of-age account of 3 Omani sisters. It is set against the backdrop of an evolving Oman, which is gradually redefining itself right after the colonial era, at the crossroads of its complicated present.

Sandstone Press stated, “We’re so proud to have brought this book to an English speaking audience. We’re delighted that the judges see the same things in it that we do.”

Sandstone Press congratulated the editor of Celestial Bodies
, Kay Farrell, by stating that ‘she championed the book from the moment it came in the door!’ “Just had an incredible evening. It requires a village to make a book take place and right here is a great chunk of ours. Long live Celestial Bodies
,” Kay tweeted right after winning the award.

“I think it helped a lot that I was very unfamiliar with the Arab world in general and Oman in particular, as it enabled me to stand in for readers in a similar position,” Kay stated in an interview about her taking more than the book as the editor.

Speaking to Muscat Daily
, Dr Ali bin Saud al Bimani, vice chancellor of Sultan Qaboos University, stated that the varsity was proud of her accomplishment. “This achievement of Jokha Alharthi is a fantastic honour for SQU as she is a graduate of the university. She has been serving as a faculty member in the Department of Arabic at the College of Arts and Social Sciences at the university because 1999.

“We at SQU, hope that this recognition would pave way for more international attention to Arabic literature in general and Omani literature in particular. We have no doubt that this achievement, by one of our academics, would add to the international standing of SQU.”

Celestial Bodies
 was chosen by a panel of 5 judges, chaired by Bettany Hughes, award-winning historian, author and broadcaster, and writer and translator Maureen Freely philosopher Professor Angie Hobbs novelist and satirist Elnathan John and essayist and novelist Pankaj Mishra.

Bettany commented, “A book to win more than the head and the heart in equal measure, worth lingering more than. Interweaving voices and timelines are beautifully served by the pacing of the novel. Its delicate artistry draws us into a richly imagined neighborhood – opening out to tackle profound queries of time and mortality and disturbing elements of our shared history. The style is a metaphor for the topic, subtly resisting clichés of race, slavery and gender. Celestial Bodies
 evokes the forces that constrain us and these that set us free of charge.”

Information Source: Muscat Daily

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