About this book
Jokha Alharthi • Marilyn Booth
The first Arabic-language winner of the Man Booker International Prize, Celestial Bodies is a vivid and elegant tale of a family and a nation across decades.
In the village of al-Awafi, in Oman, two families are joined by marriage: Mayya, the eldest of three sisters, marries Abdallah, son of a wealthy merchant, after suffering her first heartbreak. Abdallah’s passionate love for his wife goes unrequited; she regards him with a mixture of tolerance and mild amusement. Yet he cannot contend solely with the cares and concerns of a husband and father, haunted as he is by the mysterious death of his mother and vivid recollections of his megalomaniacal father.
The couple is orbited by an intricate constellation of individuals, connected by blood, by proximity, by deeply rooted social edifices. Those in their immediate families include Mayya’s sisters — Asma, who aspires to a different kind of life and marriage, and Khawla, who chooses to refuse all offers and await a reunion with the man she loves, who has emigrated to Canada. The three women, their families, their loves, and their losses unspool delicately against a backdrop of a rapidly changing Oman, a country evolving from a traditional, slave-owning society into its complex present.
The first ever novel originally written in Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize, and the first book by a female Omani author to be translated into English, Celestial Bodies is an exquisite literary creation that marks the arrival of a major international talent.