New Zealand Listener

Her line in the sand

The final pages of Jokha Alharthi’s ground-breaking novel Celestial Bodies were briefly under threat in the English translation. Her editor wanted to lose the dream-like sequence. But whereas the Omani writer agreed to alter the Arabic text by adding chapter headings and varying fonts to denote the narrations of the character Abdullah, she put her foot down on axing the last section.

“I said … if I have to remove that, then don’t publish it.” Alharthi knew what mattered. won the International Man Booker Prize last year and, in retrospect, those final pages seem critical to what she so brilliantly does throughout the novel, disrupting readers’ expectations of what life might be like in a small town in the Middle Eastern sultanate.

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