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Jokha Alharthi Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Celestial Bodies (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Body in Arabic Love Poetry (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bitter Orange Tree / Narinjah (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon
Silken Gazelles (With: Marilyn Booth) (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Jokha Alharthi is a literary fiction author from Oman who is best known as the first Arab author to ever win the International Booker Prize.

The author was born in Oman in 1978 and later on, moved to the United Kingdom. In the UK, she went to Edinburgh University where she got a doctorate in Arabic literature.
Jokha published “Celestial Bodies” her debut novel in 2018 and has since then published several other works of fiction that have been just as successful.

She is now the author of at least three novels, children’s books, and several collections of short stories. “Narinjah” her 2016 novel was the winner of the Sultan Qaboos Award for Literature, Art, and Culture in the same year.
“Celestial Bodies” her debut novel was translated into English by Marilyn Booth and together they won the International Man Booker Prize in 2019.

Jokha Alharthi’s second novel “Bitter Orange Tree” also made the long list for the Dublin Literary Award.

She currently works at the Muscat-based Sultan Qaboos University’s Arabic department as an associate professor.

Since the author won the Booker Award she has been invited to literary events across the world where she has given talks to all manner of literary enthusiasts.

Growing up as a child, Jokha Alharthi loved reading above anything else.
She still remembers how she used to escape from her household chores and the many guests in her home and often went to her grandfather’s home where she could read her books in peace.
She was just 10 when she began reading Agatha Christie’s novel. When she was 12 years old, she read “Kitab al-Aghani” by Abu Al Faraj Al Isfahani the 10th-century poet from Baghdad.
The encyclopedic collection of songs and poems comes with more than 20 volumes with Arabic verse poetry numbering more than 16,000 across more than 10,000 pages.

The work is full of cultural and social anecdotes which may not have been suitable for a 12-year-old but it shaped Jokha’s understanding of Arabic literature. Her love for writing would begin with diaries before she moved to short story writing in college.

While she was doing her doctorate degree in Scotland, she began writing as a means to deal with homesickness. Having to deal with the cold weather and a very different culture made her find an escape by writing her Arabic fiction.
As time went by, things would become a lot easier and the distance from her country gave her a better perspective on Oman. It made her understand her country which was difficult to do while she was still living there.

Jokha Alharthi got much of the inspiration for her novels from her own experiences. While she was studying in the United Kingdom, she became introspective about life back home in Oman, particularly with the matriarchs in her home.
Jokha has since become known for writing about mental health issues that women across the world have.

Growing up in a large family with four brothers and eight sisters, she had first-hand experience with the stories of women from many generations.

The women in her life had many responsibilities to shoulder. They were expected to be perfect employees, perfect mothers, and perfect wives.

Jokha Alharthi has thus come to be known for writing fiction works that come with dark and intense emotions that detail the mental anguish of her female characters.

“Celestial Bodies” by Jokha Alharthi is a work that paints a detailed picture of Omani society grappling with social and cultural changes as it transitions into a modern society.
There is a lot of tension between what had been behaviors and values from the late twentieth century and those of the modern world.

These are played out in the relationships, marriages, and lives of three generations of a very wealthy family in Oman. Throughout the novel, the author provides insights into the interplay of religion, traditional healing methods, and folklore.
The novel focuses on three siblings starting with the eldest Mayya who is forced to suppress her desire for a man she loves and instead bends to pressure from her family to marry Abdulla who she never loved.
The second daughter is a woman who loves to read who also marries a man her family chose since she believes marriage is her end. She thinks by getting married she can finally pursue an education.
The youngest is Khawla who is in love with Nasir her cousin and has resisted all offers of marriage as she waits for the return of Nasir who is in Canada.

Alharthi writes with a wide scope covering themes from mothers being taken into captivity, the treatment of slaves and what followed when they were finally emancipated in the 1960s.

In addition to the generational conflicts, there are also rebellions political upheavals, and the gradual erosion of the rigid patriarchal structure as the society transitions into a modern one.

Jokha Alharthi’s novel “Bitter Orange Tree” is a thrilling novel by the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist.

The work is an exceptional look into desire, wealth, social status, and female agency. In prose that is at once profound and restless, it is a mosaic of a young woman struggling to understand her roots.
She is also trying to find an identity in which her happiness and power might find the necessary freedom to flourish and bear fruit.

“Bitter Orange Tree” is the story of an Omani student named Zuhur who goes to a British university and finds herself caught between the present and the past.
Trying to assimilate in Britain and form friendships, she often reflected on the many relationships that have shaped her life.

The most prominent of these is the bond she has with a woman named Bint Amir who she thinks of as her grandmother that died just after she left her home in Oman.
Bint Amir had a very strong emotional connection with Zuhur, even though they never had a blood relationship.

The story of the lead unfolds in captivating fragments as her memories of the past mingle with her dreams and events from the present.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Jokha Alharthi

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