Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi
Celestial Bodies is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla, who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada.
These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society, slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, to the crossroads of its complex present. Elegantly structured and taut, Celestial Bodies is a coiled spring of a novel, telling of Oman’s coming-of-age through the prism of one family’s losses and loves.
‘Complex and tangled . . . the glimpses into a culture relatively little known in the west are fascinating.’ The Guardian ‘A book to win over the head and the heart in equal measure, worth lingering over . . .’ Bettany Hughes, Man Booker International Judge ‘A beautifully achieved account of lives pulling at the edges of change.’ The Irish Times ‘Blends the rhythms of daily life with magic and legend.’ Muhammad Barrada ‘Delivers the reader immediately into the world of the marginal, forgotten, most subaltern sectors of society.’ Ibrahim al-Hajari