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Only Scottish publisher up for prize for its Omani novel

By Margaret Chrystall

THE book Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi – published by Dingwall’s Sandstone Press – has been longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2019.

The publisher is one of a number of independent publishers with books listed, but the only Scottish publisher to make it to this stage.

The book has been translated by Marilyn Booth and is the first novel by an Omani woman to make the longlist for the prize.

Sandstone’s managing director, Robert Davidson, said: “We are delighted with this recognition of the work of Jokha Alharthi and her gifted and distinguished translator, Marilyn Booth.

Writer Jokha Alharthi.
Writer Jokha Alharthi.

“We are incredibly proud of our part in bringing this talented novelist to the attention of Europe and the world.

“This is a novel that makes real a history and a people and their possible futures.”

Writer Jokha Alharthi is equally delighted with the news.

“I am absolutely thrilled that Celestial Bodies has been longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize.

Translator Professor Marilyn Booth.
Translator Professor Marilyn Booth.

“It is a great honour and an opportunity for Omani literature to be read and appreciated by a wider audience.”

The book tells the story of the history and people of modern Oman told through one family’s losses and loves.

It won the best Omani novel prize in 2010 when it was published in Arabic.

Jokha Alharthi is the author of two collections of short fction, a children’s book, and three novels. Fluent in English, she completed a PhD in Edinburgh, and teaches at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat. She has been shortlisted for the Sahikh Zayed Award for Young Writers and her short stories have been published in English, German, Italian, Korean, and Serbian.

The translation of the book was done by Professor Marilyn Booth of the Oriental Institute and Magdalen College, Oxford University. The professor received a translation grant from the Anglo Omani Society.

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