Narinjah (The Bitter Orange Tree)

Narinjah (The Bitter Orange Tree)

Written by: Alharthi, Jokha
Translated by: Booth, Marilyn

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The eagerly awaited new novel by the winner of the Man Booker International Prize, Narinjah (The Bitter Orange Tree) is an extraordinary tale of one young Omani woman building a life for herself in Britain and reflecting on the relationships that have made her.

Zuhur, an Omani student at a British university, is caught between the past and the present. As she attempts to form friendships and assimilate in Britain, she can’t help but ruminate on the relationships that have been central to her life. Most prominent is her strong emotional bond with Bint Amir, a woman she always thought of as her grandmother, who passed away just after Zuhur left the Arabian Peninsula.
As the historical narrative of Bint Amir’s challenged circumstances unfurls in captivating fragments, so too does Zuhur’s isolated and unfulfilled present, one narrative segueing into another as time slips and dreams mingle with memories.
Narinjah (The Bitter Orange Tree) is a profound exploration of social status, wealth, desire, and female agency. It presents a mosaic portrait of one young woman’s attempt to understand the roots she has grown from, and to envisage an adulthood in which her own power and happiness might find the freedom necessary to bear fruit and flourish.

The eagerly awaited new novel by the winner of the Man Booker International Prize, Narinjah (The Bitter Orange Tree) is an extraordinary tale of one young Omani woman building a life for herself in Britain and reflecting on the relationships that have made her.

Zuhur, an Omani student at a British university, is caught between the past and the present. As she attempts to form friendships and assimilate in Britain, she can’t help but ruminate on the relationships that have been central to her life. Most prominent is her strong emotional bond with Bint Amir, a woman she always thought of as her grandmother, who passed away just after Zuhur left the Arabian Peninsula.
As the historical narrative of Bint Amir’s challenged circumstances unfurls in captivating fragments, so too does Zuhur’s isolated and unfulfilled present, one narrative segueing into another as time slips and dreams mingle with memories.
Narinjah (The Bitter Orange Tree) is a profound exploration of social status, wealth, desire, and female agency. It presents a mosaic portrait of one young woman’s attempt to understand the roots she has grown from, and to envisage an adulthood in which her own power and happiness might find the freedom necessary to bear fruit and flourish.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — May 10, 2022
Specifications 224 pages | 5.25 in x 8 in
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Excerpt
Written By

JOKHA ALHARTHI is the first Omani woman to have a novel translated into English. Her previous novel, Celestial Bodies, was the first book translated from the Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize. Alharthi is the author of three previous collections of short fiction, three children’s books, and three novels in Arabic. Narinjah (The Bitter Orange Tree) received the Sultan Qaboos Award for Culture, Art, and Literature. She completed a Ph.D. in Classical Arabic poetry in Edinburgh and teaches at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat.

Written By

JOKHA ALHARTHI is the first Omani woman to have a novel translated into English. Her previous novel, Celestial Bodies, was the first book translated from the Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize. Alharthi is the author of three previous collections of short fiction, three children’s books, and three novels in Arabic. Narinjah (The Bitter Orange Tree) received the Sultan Qaboos Award for Culture, Art, and Literature. She completed a Ph.D. in Classical Arabic poetry in Edinburgh and teaches at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat.

In probing history, challenging social status, questioning familial bonds and debts, Alharthi’s multilayered pages beautifully, achingly unveil the haunting aloneness of women’s experiences.

” —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

A gorgeous and insightful story of longing … The bittersweet narrative, intuitively translated by Booth, is chock-full of indelible images … This solidifies Alharthi’s well-earned literary reputation.

” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

A rich and powerful novel that showcases the interplay between memory and emigration and the precariousness of sisterhood in a world that encourages the domination of men, told in a sumptuous and incisive translation by Marilyn Booth.

” —Jennifer Croft, author of Homesick and co-winner with Olga Tokarczuk of the International Booker Prize for Flights

Jokha Alharthi is a remarkable writer for whom my admiration grows with each work. Watching the lives of Zuhour and Bint Amir unfurl within Narinjah was a pleasure, and Alharthi’s prose in the capable hands of translator Marilyn Booth is as clear and refreshing as a cool glass of water.

” —Sara Nović, author of America Is Immigrants

Lyrical, elegiac, and poignant, a transcending read — like sitting by an open window at dusk as memories slip in, one by one, each radiating with life.

” —Akil Kumarasamy, author of Half Gods

Narinjah blazes with the strength of generations of Omani women — from the charcoal makers of the Arab gulf to the international students of a British residence hall. This mesmerizing novel is an illuminating, important work, and Jokha Alharthi points her pen at some of the most harrowing circumstances facing women and girls across the world. I am grateful to Marilyn Booth for her translation of this exquisite book.

” —Kali Fajardo-Anstine, author Sabrina & Corina