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BookBrowse Reviews Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi

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Celestial Bodies

by Jokha Alharthi

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi X
Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Oct 2019, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Dean Muscat
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Set in modern day Oman, this winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize is a labyrinthine family saga exploring love, loneliness and marriage in a country on the cusp of change.

One typically expects to find a detailed family tree adorning the opening pages of, say, an epic fantasy, or a weighty historical novel. Less so a shortish family saga, which for the most part is set around a single household. However, the printed genealogy at the start of Celestial Bodies serves as an essential reference point for navigating the intricate web of family members we're introduced to and their complex interrelationships.

Set in the desert-fringed village of al-Awafi, the novel is a cross-generational chronicle of an extended, middle-class family coming to terms with an Oman that's transitioning from a society entrenched in traditions of slavery and arranged marriage, to a modern-day country that's beginning to embrace inclusivity, equal rights and the need for self-determinism.

We spend the most time with Abdallah, the son of the wealthy Merchant Sulayman, as he ...

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