An Omani Writer Made The Man Booker International Prize Shortlist

BY Delara Zand / Apr 14 2019 / 03:29 AM

Jokha Alharthi is the first author from a GCC country to be selected and joins an almost entirely female list of nominees

An Omani Writer Made The Man Booker International Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize was just revealed, and a Gulf author, Jokha Alharthi, made the cut.

The literary prize is a cross-border and cross-cultural celebration of translated fiction, with the five languages represented in 2019’s edition being Arabic, French, Spanish, German and Polish. Joining Alharthi on the list are acclaimed international names including Annie Ernaux, Olga Tokarczuk, Marion Poschmann, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Alia Trabucco Zerán. Five out of the six nominated writers are female, with an all-female line-up of translators.

Jokha Alharthi has been nominated for her novel Celestial Bodies (or Sayyidat el-Qamar), which offers a vibrant snapshot of life in the Omani village of al-Awafi and follows the coming of age of three sisters. A prolific and esteemed author, she has previously published novels, children’s books, poetry, short stories and academic articles, and has seen her writing translated into English, German, Korean, Serbian and Italian. She won the 2016 Sultan Qaboos Award for Culture, Art and Literature for her novel Naranja.

Alharthi will attend several events in the UK ahead of the winner announcement, including book signings, Q&A sessions, discussion panels, and readings of Celestial Bodies in both English and Arabic.

The winner of the literary award will be announced on 21 May in London. The successful author and translator will split the prize money of Dhs240,000 (£50,000).

Alharthi said of her title as the first-ever Omani in the running: “I hope this helps international readers discover that Oman has an active and talented writing community who live and work for their art. They take on sacrifices and struggles and find joy in writing, or in art, much the same way as anywhere else. This is something the whole world has in common.”

“Omanis, through their writing, invite others to look at Oman with an open mind and heart. No matter where you are, love, loss, friendship, pain and hope are the same feelings and humanity still has a lot of work to do to believe in this truth.”