For the first time in the history of Man Booker prize, an Arabic-language writer has been adjudged the winner.
Jokha Alharthi received this year’s Man Booker for her book ‘Celestial Bodies’. Alharthi is also the first Omani writer to win the esteemed literary award. The 40-year-old author will be sharing the prize money of £50,000 (approx 45 lakh) equally with her translator American academic Marilyn Booth.
We’re delighted to announce our #MBI2019 winner is Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth and published by Sandstone Press. Read more here: https://t.co/rWHBRXwDOy pic.twitter.com/SfJr2Yg98u
— Man Booker Prize (@ManBookerPrize) May 21, 2019
Alharthi’s book was up against five other books from Europe and South America.“I am thrilled that a window has been opened to the rich Arabic culture,” Alharthi told reporters after the ceremony at the Roundhouse in London. “Oman inspired me but I think international readers can relate to the human values in the book — freedom and love,” the 40-year-old added.
According to The Guardian, ‘Celestial Bodies’ is set in the Omani village of al-Awafi and follows the stories of three sisters: Mayya, who marries into a rich family after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries for duty; and Khawla, waiting for a man who has emigrated to Canada.
Historian Bettany Hughes, who led the judging panel, said that the book avoids every stereotype one might expect.”We felt we were getting access to ideas and thoughts and experiences you aren’t normally given in English. It avoids every stereotype you might expect in its analysis of gender and race and social distinction and slavery. There are surprises throughout. We fell in love with it,” she was quoted as saying by The Guardian while presenting the award at the ceremony in London Roundhouse.