Omani Novelist Wins Prestigious British Literary Award

Omani Novelist Wins Prestigious British Literary Award

Omani novelist Jokha Alharthi has won the Man Booker International prize, making her the first Arabic author to claim the prize.

Alharthi’s novel "Celestial Bodies" revolves around her homeland's post-colonial transformation.

The Man Booker Prize is the leading literary award in the English speaking world, and has brought recognition, reward and readership to outstanding fiction for five decades. The international prize rewards the finest in fiction, highlighting great books to readers. As of 2016, the Man Booker International Prize has been awarded annually for a single book, translated into English and published in the UK.

"I am thrilled that a window has been opened to the rich Arabic culture. Oman inspired me but I think international readers can relate to the human values in the book, freedom and love," Alharthi explained to reporters after the ceremony at the Roundhouse in London.

“A richly imagined, engaging and poetic insight into a society in transition and into lives previously obscured. Elegantly structured and taut, it tells of Oman's coming-of-age through the prism of one family's losses and loves,” the prize’s jury described the novel.

"It touches the subject of slavery. I think literature is the best platform to have this dialogue," Alharthi said.

Alharthi was competing with five other shortlisted authors: France's Annie Ernaux, Germany's Marion Poschmann, Poland's Olga Tokarczuk, Colombia's Juan Gabriel Vasquez and Chile's Alia Trabucco Zeran.

The 40-year-old Omani writer studied classical Arabic poetry at Edinburgh University and is the author of two previous collections of short fiction, a children's book and three novels in Arabic.