Book Review: Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi

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Book Review: Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi

Published by: Simon and Schuster 

Genre: Historical Fiction

My Rating: 4.5/5

Blurbs as on Goodreads:

In the village of al-Awafi, in Oman, we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla, who chooses to refuse all offers and await a reunion with the man she loves, who has emigrated to Canada.
These three women and their families, their losses and loves, unspool beautifully against a backdrop of a rapidly changing Oman, a country evolving from a traditional, slave-owning society into its complex present. Through the sisters, we glimpse a society in all its degrees, from the very poorest of the local slave families to those making money through the advent of new wealth.
The first-ever novel originally written in Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize, and the first book by a female Omani author to be translated into English, Celestial Bodies marks the arrival of a major international writer.

My Opinion:

As the blurb says, Celestial Bodies is a narrative about the people residing in a small village al-Awafi in Oman. There is frequent mentioning about Muscat as well. The book is a narrative from the PoV of Abdallah (in present), and some third person PoV. It’s mostly about three sisters, Mayya, Asma and Khawla, about their years of growing up, falling in love, married life and raising children. As they grow and progress in life, Oman also goes through a lot of economic, political and cultural changes.

The crux of this narratives is relationships. The relationship, a child (girl/boy) shares with his/her parents. The relationship between siblings, between couples and between people residing together in the same place.

The language of the book did not work for me, however. It might be because it was translated, or there might be some other reason, but it somehow didn’t work for me. I usually enjoy reading multiple perspectives and timelines, but this was a bit out of order for me. I would have loved had there been more development of characters taken place. But I loved how raw and real these characters were. They were vulnerable, their decisions not well thought, but that’s life. And I enjoyed reading about their life.

If you love to explore something from the award-winning category of books, I would definitely recommend this book.

If you love to explore something from the award-winning category of books, I would definitely recommend this book.


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