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Celestial Bodies

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Winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2019

Celestial Bodies is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, to the crossroads of its complex present.

Elegantly structured and taut, Celestial Bodies is a coiled spring of a novel, telling of Oman’s coming-of-age through the prism of one family’s losses and loves.

243 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2010

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About the author

Jokha Alharthi

8 books558 followers
Jokha al-Harthi (Arabic: جوخة الحارثي‎; born July 1978) is an Omani writer and academic. She was educated in Oman and in the United Kingdom. She obtained her PhD in classical Arabic literature from Edinburgh University. She is currently an associate professor in the Arabic department at Sultan Qaboos University.

al-Harthi has published three collections of short stories and three novels (Manamat, Sayyidat el-Qamar and Narinjah). She has also authored academic works. Her work has been translated into English, Serbian, Korean, Italian, and German and published in Banipal magazine. She was also one of eight participants in the 2011 IPAF Nadwa (writers' workshop). al-Harthi won the Sultan Qaboos Award for Culture, Arts and Literature, for her novel Narinjah (Bitter Orange) in 2016.

Sayyidat el-Qamar was shortlisted for Zayed Award 2011 and has been translated into English by Marilyn Booth. It was published in the UK by Sandstone Press in June 2018 under the title Celestial Bodies, and won the Man Booker International Prize 2019.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,452 reviews
Profile Image for بثينة العيسى.
Author 22 books25.4k followers
June 15, 2019
هناك نظريتان تتصارعان في عالم الكتّاب، وأنا أعتقد بأن كلاهما صحيح. النظرية الأولى هي أن ما يقرأ بسهولة، قد كتب بصعوبة. الأخرى ترى بأن ما قُرِأ بسهولة قد كتب أيضًا بسهولة. لا أدري إن كانت جوخة الحارثي قد كتبت سيدات القمر بصعوبة أم لا، لكنها أوحت لي بسهولةٍ تنم عن براعة.

أكثر ما أثار انتباهي في سيدات القمر هو الأدوات؛ توظيف التعدد الصوتي، كتابة المرأة بالصوت الثالث (الراوي العليم / الضمير الغائب) وكتابة الرجل بالصوت الأول (الراوي الضمني / الذاتي / بمضير المتكلم). الشخصيات الغنية، والمركّبة، والفتنة الكامنة في الخصوصية المكانية التي أضفت على الفضاء الروائي سحره.

فوز سيدات القمر بجائزة البوكر الدولية جعلني أنظر إليها بعين القارئ الأجنبي، المستكشف، الغريب على اللغة والمكان. وإذا كانت البيئة العمانية ليست بالأجنبية تمامًا بالنسبة لي، ولكثير من القراء العرب، إلا أنَّ جوخة بذلت عناية لافتة لإضاءة تلك الخصوصية. إنَّ في الرواية جدة وطزاجة وأنا سعيدة لأن هذا النوع من الكتب، غير المصاب بالاستشراق الذاتي، قد حظي بما يستحقه من اهتمام لكي يترجم ويفوز بالبوكر.

تحية للمترجمة مارلين بوث على الاختيار..

Profile Image for Angela M .
1,286 reviews2,204 followers
September 26, 2019
This is the winner of the 2019 International Man Booker Prize and that was one of the things that drew me to read this book. The other was that while I’ve heard of Oman, I didn’t know much about it, except that it was in the Middle East. I had to look at a map to see exactly where. I ended up having mixed feelings about it. A family saga in a way spreading over decades, there is a focus on three sisters and the on how they accept or don’t the marriages their family decides for them. The narrative structure for me was disjointed with chapters by a third person narrator alternating with a first person, stream of consciousness narrative by the husband of one of the sisters.

Early on, the dichotomy between the past and present is evident, cultural changes sometimes dependent on the generational differences are depicted. Marriage for love, the desire for an education, class differences, the slavery of the past are highlighted. There a lot of characters which make the family tree at the beginning essential. I struggled at times to keep going, but it was a short book so I did. In spite of the things that didn’t quite work for me, I think the book had a lot to offer in providing a view of a country and people that I knew nothing about and this for me was it’s strength. It’s always a good thing to discover a place and a people through story.

I read an advanced copy of this book from Catapult through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Hugh.
1,256 reviews49 followers
May 22, 2019
Winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2019

I am a little unsure what to make of this one.

I knew very little of Oman and its history, so that side of it was quite interesting, and some of the stories were quite moving, but overall it seemed to lack direction, and although the component stories are all part of a wider family story stretching over several generations, the organisation seems a bit random, which made it rather confusing. The family tree at the start didn't help much - too many crossed lines.

Overall I did get a sense of ordinary lives struggling with a culture in which ancient traditions and modern society are juxtaposed, and the female characters are strong. Worth reading but probably not a contender for the prize.

I read this book and wrote this review a couple of days before the MBI shortlist was announced, so before my personal favourite The Faculty of Dreams was eliminated. This book's win was still a little surprising to me but I suspect I underrated its appeal, and some of the other shortlisted books are more confrontational.
Profile Image for Jibran.
224 reviews655 followers
January 24, 2021
Winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2019

Life appeared to her sharply divided in two parts, like night and day: what we live, and what lives inside of us.

It would not be an exaggeration to call this novel a microcosm of modern Oman. It takes a wider view of the monumental changes that have taken place at turbo speed in the Omani society during the last fifty years or so, told through the story of three or four families drawn from different social classes, who navigate the troubled waters of change in their own unique way.

So vast is its scope that a conventional telling of the story would have given us a thousand-page doorstopper (I’d have liked that too), but the fluidity of the narrative coupled with a subdued steam-of-consciousness gives it a dream-like ambiance which allows the writer to condense it into a much smaller space without missing or omitting a lot of backstory in order to put into context and relate the events taking place at a time of great social and cultural change that threatens to rip apart the tightly woven fabric of a traditional society sustained by its power hierarchies, tribal alliances, class differences and gendered social order – a change so fast and all-encompassing that you could use Facebook and Twitter and legally own slaves in living memory.

Stylistically, the story goes back and forth in time and place within the same short chapter. So a newly born girl grows up to become a doctor and goes back to becoming an infant in the lap of the mother within the space of three pages, like a naturally-occurring unordered stream of remembered thoughts, so that you connect the dots as the story proceeds to complete the picture. Pretty much all chapters are told in the same manner. This may not work for some who prefer structured narration.

For what it is, this novel had to have a long take because anything more focused with fewer characters might have produced a skewed or misleading view of the transition from the old to the new, which I believe is the overarching theme of the book. Al-harthi focuses on themes of loss and pain, expectations and reality, truth and delusion, struggles and achievements, migration and loyalty to homeland, of the many major and minor characters that populate the story. However, the downside of this approach is that we don’t get to spend enough time with any of the main characters to get to know them properly. A hundred or so more pages would have given more substance to some characters that seemed important but remained underdeveloped.

Any story that tells of a struggle between tradition and modernity, between patriarchy and emancipation, between power and injustice, between men and women often can easily get trapped into stereotypes and clichés, especially when writers from the postcolonial countries have a primarily Western audience in mind. I have seen that happen so many times it doesn’t surprise me anymore.

Credit to the writer, there’s nothing of that sort in this novel. Characters that populate her story are convincingly human, especially the women who manage the changing reality on their own terms. There is a stark contrast between the acts of resistance put up by the three sisters, London (Mayya’s daughter), and Salima (London’s maternal grandmother). And then there is a free-spirited Bedouin woman Najiyah, nicknamed Qamar or the Moon, who defies all traditional norms and lives a nomadic life as a socially mobile and independent woman. Not to mention the former slave-girl Zarifa who had her own defence mechanisms against her lowly station as a servant of the household (she wields power as Abdallah’s father’s mistress and then as a woman who performs important ceremonies to ward off evil spirits).

But the skill extends to male characters as well. The character of Abdallah, Mayya’s husband, is drawn with great care. He is the heir of a textbook upper-class patriarch but breaks the stereotypes of a traditional father in how he deals with his wife (her lack of love for him) and daughter London (allowing her to marry a man of her choice even if he’s unhappy about it). Other men in Al-Harthi’s world, especially from older generations, are faithfully depicted to be following and protecting the rules of strict patriarchy which they had grown up with and expected to uphold. Then there are those apparently modern men like London’s ex-husband-poet and Asma's painter husband who bang on about freedom, equality, class struggle etc but in reality are worse than traditional men for their hypocrisy and double standards. This is where Al-Harthi has successfully created examples of a type of men whose lofty ideas mask their internalised misogyny.

There is another aspect depicted in the story of Najiyah (the afore-mentioned free-spirited Bedouin woman) and Azzan (Abdallah’s father) who had been having an affair (which is part of a series of infidelities on the part of married men with little to no consequences - another point of debate). This almost reads like a satire on the traditional Arab romances of a wealthy sheikh head over heels for a wild-eyed, big-bosomed, moon-faced Arab beauty who is compared to Layla by the love-stricken Majnun:

“What starry siren can mime coy Layla when her form spirals away
Or her eyes, the winsome startled pools of the sands’ wild mare?

The story of Layla and Majnun has the same cultural import in Middle Eastern lore as Romeo and Juliet has in the West except the former is a lot older.

The centrality of poetry and how it influenced ideas of love and romance can be seen at work throughout the story. That is, silent passion not expressed to the lover but only in one's poetry is a common theme in Arabic and broadly Middle Eastern poetry, culminating in situations which can be amusing or tragic, when the lover finally gets to find out that they are the object of their lover's desire. That's the type of love Mayya seemed to have for a guy before she was married off. The younger sister Khawla also suffered from a variation of the same for her inexplicable attachment to the cousin to whom she's betrothed and who wouldn't return from Canada to wed her.

The romantic scenes set in the desert at night outside the village of al-Awafi were the most atmospheric and it makes sense to close the review at this point with a few typically obtuse Arabic couplets that employ wordplay and double-entendres, translated by Marilyn Booth as:

Neither exertion nor acceptance can I claim to possess
only a mere affinity in which I find my pride

Nor have I strength to wish myself into their clutches
how can my wished-for goal be theirs and not wrong?

My purpose is to see no willed-for purpose there
the essence of will this is, the wish-eye of the blind.

~Said bin Khalfan bin Ahmed Al-Khalili.

October '19
Profile Image for Paul Fulcher.
Author 2 books1,211 followers
May 21, 2019
Now winner of the 2019 Man Booker International

An interesting choice by the judges, a book whose strengths lie in its deep cultural insights and clever construction.

The moon is the treasure house for what is on high and what lies below. The moon moves between high and low, between the sublime and the filth of creation. Of all the celestial bodies, the moon is closest to the matters of this lower world.

Celestial Bodies has been translated by Marilyn Booth from Sayyidat al-qamar (literal translation: Ladies of the Moon), the 2nd novel by Omani novelist and UK-based academic Jokha Alharthi.

Based on the story of two Omani families, brought together by marriage, and a lengthy cast of surrounding characters (the family trees at the start is invaluable to the reader) it gives both directly, by its impact on the characters, and by the analogy of their changing lives, a fascinating insight into the history and modernisation of Oman over four generations, across the 20th Century and into the early 21st.

The 1920 Treaty of Sib and its repercussion serve as one key motif, a treaty 'between the Sultan of Muscat and the Imamate of Oman, recognising Omani autonomy within the interior regions of Muscat and Oman, which was a British protectorate at the time' (per https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treat...). This essentially divided the country between the more cosmopolitan, secular, pro-British Muscat tradition of the coast ruled by the Sultan, and the interior tradition. more traditional, insular and tribal, and ruled by an Imam according to the ideological tenets of Ibadism.

The book is written in over 60 short, almost flash, chapters (c. 4 pages each) and the narration alternates between the first person narration by one character, Abdallah, and a more conventional third person omniscient narrator who tells the story from the perspective of a number of the other characters.


The narration also roams in time across the years in non-linear fashion taking us within a few pages from traditional rituals to appease the djinn to the worship of Gucci, and from traditional Bedouin tented communities and the small (fictitious) village of al-Awafi to luxury malls in modern-day Muscat. But it is also striking how many of the old traditions are still key in the 21st century, and how much agency the female characters still had in the days of arranged marriages.

Abdallah's story is at the heart of the novel. His sections are narrated from his confused thoughts in the last hours of a flight to Frankfurt, in the early 2000s. Afflicted with a headache, he drifts in and out of sleep, while he attempts to piece his life together:

The airplane hurtled forward, pitching into heavy clouds. I could not get my eyes to close even though I knew it would be hours before we reached Frankfurt.
I don’t remember . . . I can’t tie it all together, all these things that happened.
Abdallah, son of Merchant Sulayman, dozes off for a few moments. As he wakes up he is still half-talking in his sleep. Don’t hang me upside down in the well, don’t. Please, no! Don’t!

This last, a recurring nightmare, a reference to a childhood incident when he was severely - and he felt unfairly - punished by his strict father. Abdallah is a businessman, dabbling in property and the stock market with mixed success, from a long line of ostensibly traders of dates, but in reality his grandfather was an arms trader, and his father diversified into the slave trade: slavery was only officially abolished in Oman in the 1960s.

In the 1890s a major slump in the Omani date trade drove a young merchant by the name of Hilal to seek a new source of profit that would let him benefit from all the mercantile experience he’d already accumulated. Resourceful Hilal realised quickly that the arms trade was the smart alternative.
It was Sulayman who inherited everything: his father’s mercantile savvy, quick mind, tall and imposing figure, grave dignity, and the large house built of plaster – as well as his nervous disposition and the title of Merchant. But Sulayman did not trade in weapons. To all appearances, dates were what occupied his work days, although his real profits were built on the slave trade.

Abdallah's mother also died shortly after his birth, but in rather mysterious circumstances. and he was brought up by Zafira, a former slave of his father Sulayman, but also his long-term mistress (pre-dating his marriage), married off to another slave (who later escaped the country), and now a servant of the family. One of Zafira's grandparents was kidnapped from his Kenyan village by pirates and sold into slavery in Oman via Zanzibar.

Zarifa is one of the novel's more colourful characters, fiercely protective of Abdallah, zealous guardian of the traditional rituals and given to quoting rhyming proverbs. The following volley of words comes as she enters Abdallah's mother-in-law's home to visit his wife, Mayya, after the birth of her first child, using the occasion to also complain about her own daughter-in-law:

The proverb-giver says: Give the sick what they yearn for, but it’s God alone will restore.

But why not some salted fish, since dear Abdallah already brought her forty hens? She must have her strength back!

Even that viper of Sanjar’s – he brought her a live chicken out of the goodness of his heart, and honey and butter too, and still she doesn’t want me to cook for her.

The proverb-spinner says: When the ass’s belly is full of food, then and there he kicks you good.

Abdallah is haunted not just by the nightmare of the well and his troubled relationship with his bullying father, but also confusion as to what happened to his mother and guilt that he lost touch with Zarifa after his father's death, and didn't even attend her funeral:

I went to my father’s funeral after he died in hospital. When my uncle died of a heart attack, and Zayd drowned in the flood, and Maneen was killed by a bullet, and Hafiza died of AIDS and Marwan killed himself with his father’s dagger, I went to their funerals, and I also attended funerals for my friends’ fathers and mothers, but I didn’t go to Zarifa’s. Simply, no one told me. She got ill without my knowing and she died and was buried and I still didn’t know.

The other key family in the novel, that of Abdallah's wife, is from a traditional Omani background and, the boys in the Abdallah's generation ill-fated with health, the family line consists of three very different sisters:

A room at the other end of the courtyard would mean Asma could be alone with her books, as she preferred, and Khawla with her mirror, as she liked. As for Mayya, usually she did her sewing in the sitting room, anyway, except when it was filled with women and her mother signalled that she must leave. She must go to the girls’ room.

Quiet, enigmatic Mayya seems only to care about sewing, and so it is a surprise to her family when Abdallah, after visiting their house, makes a traditional proposal for her hand:

Her mother hadn’t given the matter of love any particular thought, since it never would have occurred to her that pale Mayya, so silent and still, would think about anything in this mundane world beyond her threads and the selvages of her fabrics, or that she would hear anything other than the clatter of her sewing machine.

Unknown to both her mother and Abdallah, though Mayya harbours an idealised love (albeit one she pursues only in her mind, as she sews):

When Mayya saw Ali bin Khallaf he had just returned empty-handed from years of study in London. It didn’t matter to Mayya that he had no diploma: the sight of him electrified her.

She faithfully obeys her parents and marries Abdallah, but gives him little affection, that reserved instead for her children, naming her first daughter, to everyone's shock, London. London, born in 1981, is in her mid 20s as the book end, and herself divorcing after a love marriage, fiercely disapproved of by Mayya, goes badly wrong.

The 2nd sister, Asma shares her father Azzan's love for poetry and literature. And Azzan himself has a long-running passionate affair with a Bedouin woman Najiya, nicknamed The Moon, one fuelled by traditional love poetry:

Azzan held Najiya’s face between his hands as he repeated the lines that Majnun had said to his Layla.

Light the dimness with your glow once the full moon dips and shine in the sun’s stead whilst lazy dawn tarries
Your radiance outdoes the brightest sun there be: it can never thieve your smile, steal your pearly mouth
The resplendent night, your countenance! tho’ the full moon rise a moon bereft of your breast, of this graceful throat I see
Whence would the morning sun ever find a ready kohl-stick to etch for its pale face these languid eyes of yours?
What starry siren can mime coy Layla when her form spirals away or her eyes, the winsome startled pools of the sands’ wild mare?

(from Layla and Majnun (Arabic: مجنون ليلى‎), a 12th century narrative poem composed in 584/1188 by the Persian poet Niẓāmi Ganjavi)

Amma doesn't so much have an ideal love, as idealises love herself. As she reads through her father's extensive library, one books in particular appeal:

There was also the blue-spined book called Kalila and Dimna, the fables said to have been authored originally in Sanskrit by the Indian philosopher Bidpai, translated into Persian, and then translated into Arabic by the scholar Abdallah Ibn al-Muqaffa – a diminutive book no taller than a hand span, looking more like a little school notebook – printed at Sadir Press in Beirut in 1927.

There was one passage from Kalila that Asma particularly liked to read out loud to Khawla, for its lyrical beauty, created by the repeated aas and haas, the feminine possessive pronoun at the end of so many nouns. Qaala al-ghuraab: za’amuu anna ardan min aradi . . . The crow said: They claimed that after the passage of years, lands where the elephants dwelt went dry. The water grew scarce, the wells dried up, the vegetation was killed off, the trees withered away and the elephants grew very thirsty...

As she always did, before turning away from the bookshelf Asma riffled through the few pages remaining from a book whose title she did not know. She had kept it apart from the other fragile, deteriorating books in the storeroom. In these pages she read that text, though she already knew it by heart, even if she did not understand it at all.

Some of those who fancy themselves philosophers claim that God, Mighty is He, created every soul in the shape of a ball. And then He split every one of these spheres into two, and apportioned to each and every human body one half. It is decreed that each body will meet the body that holds the other half of that rent soul. Between the two a passion arises from that ancient bond. From one human being to the next, the effect of this union will vary, according to the delicacy of each person’s nature.

This union of the spheres - the need to find one's other half - is a key motif in her life, and when her family receives a proposal for marriage for her and the younger sister Khawla from the two sons of 'Emigrant Issa' she accepts it, and marries the artist Khalid, throwing herself enthusiastically into their marriage, only to find that his art is his real love:

She began to realise that there was no way she could be Khalid’s other half, once upon a time sundered but which (he assured her) he had now found. This was because Khalid, on his own, took on the likeness of a celestial sphere complete unto itself, orbiting only along its already defined path.

although she finds peace by forming her own orbit, the husband and wife forming a system of two spheres that orbit around each other.

Meanwhile the vain, rather shallow, Khawla rejects the proposal, with her father's permission although to her mother's horror, in favour of her long-lost love, who emigrated some time ago to Canada, but for who she is prepared to wait until he comes home.

Emigrant Issa's story itself explains how the uneasy truce that governed Oman since the 1920 Treaty eventually unwound in battles in the 1950s before being uneasily reconciled again in the 1970s:

Issa, had acquired his nickname of ‘Emigrant’ by leaving Oman for Egypt in 1959 after the defeat of Imam Ghalib al-Hina’i in the war of the Jabal al-Akhdar. Like nearly two thousand other Omani families who fled, fearing the English and their ruthless manipulations of power, Issa hoisted the burden of his little family onto his shoulders and settled them and himself in Cairo. His sons Khalid and Ali finished their educations there, and his daughter Ghaliya was born there. When Oman’s new government offered an amnesty in the 1970s, asking the fugitives to return and share in constructing a new awakening for a united Oman, Issa the Emigrant refused the offer outright, his head high in exile.

But there Issa expresses his sadness by reciting 19th century Omani poetry with his son, as Khalid recalls:

'Stabs of lightning pierce me like the wail of the grieved cameleer
Why, sad one, are you somnolent and dull?
Its grim swords clove the heavens, in an army of clouds to rush onward
O homeland sorely missed, clouds and rain over all.'

And then when I got to certain other lines he made me repeat them tens of times.

'Those places in which I could not stay on and on
Yet in my hope-filled mind, still they reside
Far away have I gone but never have I left them:
But then, how many times is body torn from soul!'

Then he would take over, reciting the next section of the poem himself, but only getting so far, always as far as the same line.

'I departed them, overruled, and I could not prevail
No person can surmount what is decreed'

It all makes for a wonderful picture of a society of which I had little knowledge.

If there is a weakness, it is at the pure story level. The sheer multiplicity of characters in the third person sections makes it hard to invest in any of their individual stories - many of which are in any case left rather hanging, as an example Mayya's idealised love Ali bin Khallaf is never mentioned again - and the use of a third-person narrator means that their voices are less distinct.

But definitely a worthwhile inclusion on the MBI longlist, and one that feels on the fringes of my shortlist (depending on the strength of the 7 books I have left to read). 3.75 stars.
Profile Image for Fatma Al Zahraa Yehia.
440 reviews488 followers
April 23, 2023
من الغريب كقارئة منعدمة التركيز، أن لا أتوه أو أضيع وسط هذا الكم المتشابك من الشخصيات والأزمنة المتداخلة. وأن أقلب بلهفة الصفحة تلو الأخرى وأنا أقرأ تفاصيل حياة تبدو "ظاهرياً" بسيطة ومتكررة.

يتكشف الماضي وحقيقته تدريجياً، وأكاد أضيع في متاهة الأسماء التي تترابط مصائرها بشكل أو بأخر. ولكن أجد نفسي منبهرة بقدرة المؤلفة التي استطاعت خلق وصياغة تلك الأسلوب المُرهق كتابةً، لكي يكون سلساً ورشيقاً لقارئة ملولة وضائعة مثلي.

لمست صدقاً في وصف المشاعر قليلاً ما أجده فيما أقرأ. فهناك فارقا بين "حِرفية" الكاتب في نقل المشاعر، وبين الكاتب الذي يصور لك ما في قلبه فتصدقه.

صدقت الكاتبة عندما وصفت مشاعر التعلق الطفولي لبنات سالمة الثلاث، وبعدهن حفيدتها "لندن"، بأول رجل صادفنه في طريقهن.
حياة محدودة ذات أفق ضيق، فلن يُنتظر ممن يعيش تلك الحياة أن ينظر فيما وراء أصابع قدمه. وهذا هو الحال مع باقي بطلات الرواية. عدا "نجية القمر" التي تتمرد على تلك الحياة وما تفرضه من سلطة عليها، وتقرر مصيرها بنفسها بقوة تحسد عليها.

أخذتني جوخة الحارثي في رحلة جميلة إلى وطنها الصغير الجميل "سلطنة عمان" الذي أجهله للأسف. وهى رحلة تستحق عليها تلك الجائزة التي حصلت عليها.
Profile Image for Michael.
655 reviews966 followers
March 5, 2020
Spanning decades, Celestial Bodies explores the hopes and frustrations of three generations of a wealthy Omani family. The book’s chapters alternate between the perspective of a husband who’s married into the family and that of an omniscient narrator who takes a kaleidoscopic look at the inner lives of the members of the household. There’s not a single narrative thread tying everything together, but Alharthi consistently contrasts characters’ differing conceptions of love, womanhood, and masculinity. The book’s too short for any of the cast to be fully developed and the translation often comes across as stiff, but the novel takes an interesting, if brief, look at the recent history of Oman through the lens of one family’s struggles.
Profile Image for Huda AlAbri.
188 reviews182 followers
May 21, 2019
سعيدة بفوز رواية سيدات القمر بجائزة مان بوكر العالمية... سعيدة بحق ❤❤

تكمن أهمية هذه الرواية في كونها تتناول ثلاث عوالم مرتبطة ببعضها البعض، مثل دمى الماتريوشكا
حيث الأكبر منها يلقي بظله وثقله على الأصغر.

العالم الأكبر في هذه الرواية هو حال عُمان السياسي وأهم المراحل التي مرت بها. وقد جرى عرضها بشكل عابر، على أن أهمها هو تجارة الرقيق التي ازدهرت في مرحلة ما، و��ان الرقيق يُجلبون من بلوشستان وشرق أفريقيا.

ثم يأتي العالم الأوسط، وهو مجتمع بلدة "العوافي" المتخيلة، والطبقية المقيتة فيها حيث يأتي "العبيد" في أسفل السلم الاجتماعي، وقد برعت جوخة الحارثي في تناول هذه الفئة جنبا إلى جنب مع سادتها وتبيان العلاقة التي تجمعهما ببعضها بإسقاطات ذكية. لا ينحصر شكل المجتمع هنا في ظاهرة الرقيق، بل توسع الى تناول الحالة المعيشية والثقافية حيث انتشار الخرافات والأساطير نتيجة الجهل وافتقار التعليم.

أما العالم الأصغر فهو ما يدور في نفوس الشخصيات حيث لكل منها هاجسها الخاص وقصتها المدمية والتي هي بالضرورة نتاج أحوال المجتمع والدولة. وعلي أن أعترف هنا على الرغم من تعدد الشخصيات إلا أني لم أشعر بالتشتت، بل وجدت أن كل شخصية لها امتدادها في شخصية أخرى، وكلها تلتحم معا لتشكل في مجموعها هوية المجتمع العماني قديما".

كل هذه العوالم الثلاثة تناولتها جوخة الحارثي في سرد متداخل وسلس أمسك بتلابيبي. قضيت وقتا ممتعا حقا في قرائتها وشخصياتها لا يمكن نسيانها.
Profile Image for Odai Al-Saeed.
875 reviews2,418 followers
September 7, 2019
رواية غارقة في محليتها في عمق التفاصيل تتغلغل مسهبة في تأريخ أحداث لحقبة معينة عن تاريخ (عُمان) لم تغفل الكاتبة في الغور في أسبار شخصيات الرواية حيث أن الأديولوجيات المقترنة بثقافة الشعب كانت حاضرة برمتها من خلال شخوصها واندمج الحاضر في الماضي من خلال تقاطعات السرد
عندما تقرأ هذه الرواية يتملكك شعور بأن ما سوف تقرأه هل يضاهي جائزة بوكر عالمية .
في اعتقادي الخاص ان الترجمة الجيدة أثرت في ذائقية النص لدى اللجنة واليقين الأكثر انهم لم يقرأوا نصوص تفوقها حبكة وجمالاً لكثير من الاعتبارات
الرواية العربية ظلمت لانها موضوعة على الرف وان كان هناك من أشار لهم بهذه الرواية فهناك مئات من الروايات ما تستحق هذا الاهتمام وأكثر.. .جيدة
Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,002 reviews
March 13, 2022
حكايات متدفقة تنتقل فيها الكاتبة بسلاسة بين الشخصيات والأزمنة
كأنها خيوط تنسج صورة للحياة في عُمان في الماضي والحاضر
Profile Image for Manal Omar.
199 reviews158 followers
February 7, 2019
هذه ليست مُجرد رواية، إنها درسٌ في الكِتابة والسرد، إنها عوالم مُتداخلة من الماضي والحاضر، التاريخ والإنسان، والحياة .. الكثير من الحياة الطافحة بالألوان والأقدار والحتوف.
قبل أن أُسهب في ولعي بكتابة الدكتورة جوخة الحارثي- والتي حظيت بشرف تدريسها لي في الجامعة لمُقرر اللُغة العربية- أود أن أُشير إلى جمالها كراوية. تملك د. جوخة القُدرة على التشبث باللحظة وعدم الإنفلات منها، وتسميرنا أمامها بدقةٍ وبراعة.
أكاد أُعيد كُل سطرٍ ثلاث مرات من فرط جمالها اللغوي، من فرط لذاذة وصفها وحذاقة خيالها، والأهم قدرتها على اللعب بالعامل الزمني كأنها تلعب الخِ��ة، بكُل يُسرٍ وعفوية.
عشتُ بين مزارع العوافي وضواحيها، بيوتها وقلاعها، جبالها وأفلاجها، شيوخها وعبيدها، أحلام فتياتها وصراعات فتيانها، صمود نخيلها، همس جنيّاتها، وأكثر من ذلك، مشاعر وأفكار سُكانها.
أحببت المزج التاريخي والثقافي الذي ساد على جو الرواية. تعرفتُ على الأنظمة القبلية في عُمان ما قبل النهضة وبعدها، التأثير الإنجليزي ولو بشكلٍ طفيف، عُمان الأمس وعُمان اليوم، وكيف أن بعض الأفكار والمُعتقدات لا تموت ولو طمستها الحداثة والتقنية.
في كُل شخصية كنتُ أرى وجهًا مألوفًا من قريتي التي نشأتُ بها، وبالرغم من أنني على عِلم بالكثير مما ورد في الرواية من مُعتقدات، إلا أن الكثير منها أيضًا كان جديدًا علي.
رواية تستحق التقدير والإجلال، وتستحق أن تحظى كاتبتها بقاعدة قُرائيّة مُمتدة
وبشكلٍ أو بآخر- وكإطراء أخير- كانت الرواية تأخذني إلى رائعة ماركيز "مئة عام من العُزلة؛ بشكلٍ ساحر، كأنما الرواياتنا مُتلبستان ببعض، وجُل ما أدهشني التشابه الواسع بين الحضارتين.

تستحق كُل النجوم الخمس وأكثر.
Profile Image for Amira Mahmoud.
618 reviews8,204 followers
October 27, 2019
هل تدري ما تفعله في نفسك حين تملك كل المهارات التي يجب عليك امتلاكها، وتتاح لك الفرصة التي تنتظرها أو ينتظرها غيرك لكنك في النهاية تُضيع كل ذلك دون فائدة؟ هذا ما فعلته "جوخه الحارثي" كاتبة هذه الرواية، رواية كان لها أن تكون أحد الأعمال الرائعة التي لن يمكننا تجاوزها بسهولة لكن الكاتبة فضلت أن تكون القصة مبتورة دون استغلال حقيقي لتلك المهارة المُبهرة في السرد، دون أن تكون هُناك الأساس الوحيد الذي تقوم عليه الرواية؛ الحبكة.

أنا يُمكنني تفهم وجود رواية دون نهاية، أو بنهاية مفتوحة، أو حتى عدة نهايات، بل يمكنني حتى تحمل نهاية سخيفة ساذجة واضحة ومتوقعة، يُمكنني تحمّل كل تلك الأشياء لكن لا يُمكنني تحمّل رواية دون حبكة، دون صراعات، دون أحداث ونزاعات، الرواية كانت تملك القصة الجذابة والمناسبة، الشخصيات مرسومة جيدًا وبدقة بشكل جعلني أتحمس أكثر لرؤية تطورها، اللغة قوية دون الكثير من الفذلكة، البيئة التي رُسمت فيها الأحداث مختلفة ومثيرة للقارئ العربي، كانت الرواية تملك كافة الأشياء التي تجعلها قادرة على الاستمرار في السرد دون توقف، دون أن يشعر القارئ بالممل.

كان يمكن إضافة الكثير من الأحداث والقضايا والأفكار النفسية والعقد الاجتماعية، كان يمكن لها أن تسرد بناءًا على تلك الشخصيات الكثيرة والمثيرة ما يقرب من 600 صفحة من الأحداث دون أن يشعر القارئ أنه في حاجة إلى التوقف عن القراءة حتى لالتقاط أنفاسه، لكن عوضًا عن ذلك قررت الكاتبة أن تكون البيئة المختارة جيدًا، والشخصيات المرسومة بدقة، والأحداث التي أخذت تمهد لها ويتوقع القارئ أنه ربما هناك شيئًا ما سيحدث، قررت أن تضرب بكب هذا عرض الحائط وتجعلها مجموعة حكايات تُحكي فقط لأجل الحكيّ ولا شيئ آخر، كنت اقرأ الأحداث وأعجب بها وبالشخصيات والقصة واللغة لكنني انتظر تقدم الأحداث وتطورها بشغف، حتى شعرت أن المائتي صفحة أي حجم الرواية بأكملها هو مجرد تمهيد للقصة الحقيقة التي على وشك الحدوث!

كان سقف توقعاتي عاليًا عندما قررت شراء تلك الرواية والشروع فورًا في قرائتها، أحبطتني إلى الحد الذي جعلتني أشعر بالسوء والغضب من نفسي لحماسها المفرط ذاك، وأحبطتني إلى الحد الذي سيجعلني أعود لعدم الثقة في تلك الأعمال التي تحصد الجوائز، وتلك الأعمال التي يقدمها الأدب العربي.

لم أكتب منذ مدة طويلة مراجعة تمتلئ بكل هذا الاحباط والغضب، سأمنحها نجمتين لأجل بعض الحسنات الصغيرة بها، وهذا كل شيء.

Profile Image for Antonomasia.
973 reviews1,201 followers
June 2, 2019
The beginning of Celestial Bodies is set in the 1970s but, as a cloistered young girl sews, her romantic longing expressed in tones resembling those of courtly love, it feels almost like medieval historical fiction. Oman has, over the last 40-50 years, experienced dizzyingly rapid cultural and technological change, and the novel explores this through the stories of three families linked by marriage and servitude.

Initially, I found it difficult to understand where characters were in history, so to orientate a little, I listened to all the BBC Radio programmes about Oman which I could find. (There aren't very many, and it took under an hour and a half.) The extreme rapidity of change was such that it doesn't seem insensitive to compare it to earlier periods of history in other parts of the world; even having seen horses and carts still in routine use in rural eastern Europe in the 1990s, this was something else. There was a big contrast between the radio programmes - all from the 00s and talking about modernisation in glowing terms, similar to the way Saudi Prince Salman's Vision 2030 project was reported a few years ago - and the Wikipedia entry on Oman, which has a lot of content on human rights abuses. It also became evident why there seems to be Sultan Qaboos everything, e.g. the author teaches at Sultan Qaboos University, she has won the Sultan Qaboos Award for another novel. He is essentially an absolute ruler, albeit with an advisory body of representatives, and his influence on the country, by directing modernisation at the pace he decides, has been massive.

It's in those earliest chapters of the novel, about the betrothal of Mayya, one of the three sisters at the centre of the novel, in which the influence of classical love Arabic poetry (poetry of which the author is a professor) becomes apparent. I suspect that these poetics may be obvious throughout the novel to people who know them well - but I do not, and for the untrained reader, they resurface again most obviously in the later episodes about the beautiful, independent, Qamar and her love affair with Mayya's uncle. Qamar's underlying pragamatism and unusual lifestyle for her place and time (a Bedouin Bathsheba Everdene?) are a fascinating contrast with the passion and obsessive focus of this poetry - she loves it but with boundaries - whilst the teenage Mayya, for a while, throws herself headlong into its tumultuous emotions: they two women provide a fascinating inkling as to how this corpus of poetry fitted into real people's lives and psychology.

It's evident from the introduction by translator Marilyn Booth, quoting translated academic texts, that there is esteem for this novel in the world of contemporary Arabic literature, and that it has a number of subtleties that won't necessarily apparent to Western English-language readers like me. In English it seems to have a light experimentalism, a sort of stream-of-consciousness in full sentences. The short chapters alternate between third-person narration - telling the stories of members of two extended gentry families brought together by marriage, and their former slaves - and first-person narrative by Abdallah, Mayya's husband. (Slavery was only banned in Oman in 1970, and many enslaved families stayed on as servants; a liberal Omani blogger said in 2009 that some former slave-owning families still displayed these servants at functions, as they used to with slaves in the days of slavery.) Memories and associations swirl around the narrative as they do in real thought; when you think about someone you've known for years, it isn't just in chronological or discrete fashion, and so it is shown here. The full, conventionally structured sentences can disguise this: they don't look like Western modernist stream-of-consciousness. Another interesting feature that occurred in the early chapters - in which Abdallah appeared to question the course of events related in a previous chapter by the third-person omniscient voice - did not appear to repeat later: this would have been an intriguing literary device and one that also might say something about the patriarchal society in which the novel is set.

The first person narrative returns, again and again, to Abdallah's boyhood memory of being suspended down a well by his autocratic father as a punishment. The mentions of the incident cumulatively convey the effect of trauma for someone who is prone to ruminate on it rather than bury it, and the profound psychological puzzle of making sense of a parent's harshness alongside one's esteem for them in other respects. It may get boring for the reader to keep hearing about this same incident - but this shows how repetitive it is to live with traumatic memories. If there was a similar first-person window into the lives of some of the other characters, the novel would be full of disturbing material, but incidents like the rape of an enslaved teenage girl decades earlier - the mother of Zarifa, who brought up Abdallah - are recounted only once and in the third person. The occasional occurrence of these brutal scenes in Celestial Bodies is similar to that found in many historical family sagas published in English in the later 20th century. The author, herself from a prosperous background in what is still a stratified society, appears to recognise the limitations of the way she might narrate people from enslaved families. On the basis of better-known accounts of chattel slavery in the Americas, every horror here sounds plausible. It seems as if Alhari is, in the third person, telling of stories and people she has heard, but does not presume to speak at length for them in the first person.

Life has changed vastly for everyone in Oman due to the opening up of the country to Western commerce and technology under Sultan Qaboos from 1970 onwards, but cultural change has had the biggest impact on women. Mayya's daughter London (b.1981) is a few years younger than the author herself - and in Mayya's bookish sister, one can see the cloistered life of arranged marriage and children, and the society of local women, that was the probable fate of a woman of Alharthi's talents only a short generation earlier. The chronologically earlier chapters show that it was women as much as men who were keen to uphold the patriarchal status quo, and who imposed discipline on younger girls and wayward women, just as fiercely as Lorca's Bernarda Alba. But the changes introduced from above by the Sultan, and exposure to ideas from abroad, mean that someone like London is no longer quite so subject to that system: she is a junior doctor who drives a BMW, and she wrangles out of her parents some say over her own engagement and marriage. (But that also isn't as simple as the typical Western fictional story of a Muslim girl defying her parents over marriage.)

I would never have read Celestial Bodies if it hadn't been longlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, and now, at the time I'm writing this review, it has just won. Many of the other readers I'm acquainted with who've been following the prize and reading the listed books - on Goodreads and in the bloggers' shadow jury - feel that Celestial Bodies is a compromise winner, as hardly anyone dislikes it, but it was hardly anyone's favourite either. Who knows if it fell that way among the official Booker judges too - but although I'm a little sad that more obviously spectacular books missed out, I think this is a decent winner. At a time when prizes seem to send a political message - Flights, last year's MBI winner, about freedom of movement in Europe in the face of Brexit, and Milkman about #metoo, even if it was written earlier - this award could be seen to indicate solidarity with Muslim women expressing themselves on their own terms, at a time of increasing Islamophobia.

It is also a book that perhaps, gently challenges ideas of what is best in literary fiction. In the English language context its experimentalism appears light and of a type some denigrate as middlebrow. And the family saga is a genre that, feminist scholars have pointed out, when written by male authors, has often been classed among great literature, or at least literary fiction, but is more likely to be grouped as ephemeral popular fiction when the author is female. I found this a book that works best read quite slowly - when I started to re-read it quickly for the shadowing project, aiming to finish in a few hours, I noticed that things didn't jump out as often, and that it wasn't as effortlessly evocative read at speed as several of the other shortlisted books. But when you slow down to appreciate it, Celestial Bodies contains some beautiful writing, and this novel is always fascinating for its insight into a country which gets very little coverage in much of the Anglosphere.
Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,777 reviews1,262 followers
May 21, 2019
Now deserved winner of the Man Booker International Prize.

She began to realise that there was no way she could be Khalid’s other half, once upon a time sundered but which (he assured her) he had now found. This was because Khalid, on his own, took on the likeness of a celestial sphere complete unto itself, orbiting only along its already defined path.

It is published by the Ross-shire based small publishers Sandstone press who “are an independent publisher with an international outlook, producing inspiring books by innovative authors”.

Last year, one of their publications, Rebecca Ley’s compelling and quietly beautiful debut novel “Sweet Fruit, Sour Land” won the Guardian Not The Booker prize, for which I was one of the judges.

This book is written by the Omanian based author and academic Jokha Alharthi (with a PhD from Edinburgh, now an Assistant professor in Muscat) and translated by Marilyn Booth, a Professor in the Department of Oriental Studies at Oxford.

The translator has furnished a helpful Translator’s Note – albeit one that serves more as a useful introduction to the book and to the historical canvas against which it is set, than as a note on the translation challenges faced and choices made.

The Translator’s note has a comment from the critic Munir ‘Utaybah which I think captures much of the “carefully evoked historical canvas” on which the author has painted her novel: “A complete world of social relations, practices and customary usages is collapsing ….. It is a precarious edge between one era and another, the border between the world of masters and that of slaves, between the worlds of the human beings and of supernatural jinn .…. between genuine love and imagined love, between the society’s idea of person and a person’s sense of self”

I would also strongly recommend this very detailed review by Paul


Overall I found this an enjoyable novel - both sets of narratives are non-conventional and roam across characters and across time.

Abdallah’s sections are stream of consciousness like thoughts, as he suffers from a headache (and insomnia) on a flight to Germany and roams across key incidents in his life – in the same short chapters sometimes conflating: his marriage to Mayaa (which did not match his romantic ideals); recent confrontations with their children - particularly their daughter London; his own childhood uncertainties and insecurities about the absence of his mother (who died in never explained circumstances when he was still a baby); the harsh treatment he received at the hands of his slave-trader father; and his relationship with his father’s slave and concubine Zafira.

The omniscient third party narrator sections are in distinct chapters, which will internally consistent, move from chapter to chapter across different point-of-view characters (albeit sometimes with less of a single P.O.V.) – including Mayaa, her two sisters, her father (and his affair with a Bedouin woman shortly after the birth of Mayya and Abdallah’s first daughter London), the marriage of Mayya's sister Asma to a returning emigrant's Son. Overall the chapters move linearly in time - albeit in many cases painting a back story, or less conventionally, moving forwards in time to comment on the character's future. Late chapters in particular go back in time to hint at the events leading to Abdallah's mother's death, and then forward to the unhappy marriages of Mayya's daughter London and of Mayy's youngest sister Khawla.

Both in my view are very effective at evoking the world that Munir ‘Utaybah describes

Abdallah’s sections by compressing and conflating the figurative journey that Omani society has taken over many years – a journey that, compared to the West, was accelerated into a few generations into a single, literal journey.

The third party sections move between characters who are comfortable in accepting their society imposed role (or at least feel disorientated when those roles are taken away – even if they are, literally, subservient ones), to characters who are desperate to embrace the new world (although often burnt by their first touch).

Overall – recommended both for its insights into a different culture and on literary merit and my favourite to win the Man Booker International Prize.

The moon moves between high and low, between the sublime and the filth of creation. Of all the celestial bodies, the moon is closest to the matters of this lower world"
Profile Image for Tamara Agha-Jaffar.
Author 6 books248 followers
February 27, 2023
The winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, Jokha Alharthi’s Celestial Bodies paints a vivid portrait of Omani society as it grapples with the cultural and social changes precipitated by its transition into a modern society. The tension between late twentieth-century values and behaviors with those of the present is played out in the lives, marriages, and relationships of three generations of an affluent Omani family. Threaded throughout the novel are details about daily life and the interplay of folklore, traditional healing methods, and religion.

The narrative unfolds in a series of vignettes told by a third person omniscient narrator focusing each time on one of a dozen or so characters. These vignettes alternate with the first-person narrative of Abdullah, a young man damaged by his father’s abuse and his mother’s death under mysterious circumstances. The multiplicity of characters and perspectives would have been confusing had Alharthi not provided a family tree to show the relationships. This family tree is essential, especially in the early pages of the novel, until one becomes familiar with each character’s placement.

The primary focus is on three sisters. Mayya, the eldest, suppresses her desire for the man she loves by acquiescing to parental demands to marry Abdullah, a man she does not love. Asma, the second in line, is the reader in the family. She agrees to marry the man chosen for her because she perceives the marriage to be a means to an end—the end being the ability to pursue her education. Khawla, the youngest, is in love with her cousin, Nasir. She resists all offers of marriage, stubbornly insisting to wait for his return from Canada.

Alharthi’s scope is wide. In the character of Zarifa, we learn of her mother’s captivity into slavery, the treatment of slaves, and the aftermath of their eventual emancipation in the 1960s. In addition to the generational conflicts, we read about political upheavals and rebellions as Omanis struggle for independence. We watch the gradual erosion of a rigid patriarchal structure where male infidelities, spousal abuse, and child abuse are rampant, where women are treated as possessions, and where young girls are kidnapped and forced into marriage. In the space of a few short generations, the society transitions. The slaves have been freed; political factions have reached an uneasy truce; women now have careers, make their own voting decisions in elections, choose their own spouses, and divorce them for their infidelities.

The narrative progresses through non-linear shifts in time. We dip in and out of the long ago past, the more recent past, and the present. We watch Zarifa as she leaves food for the djinn to ward off harm for Abdullah at his birth. Within a few pages, we listen in on a conversation between Abdullah and his now adult daughter. As we piece together the shifts in time and the different perspectives, the back story of each character falls into place and a clear picture emerges.

Highly recommended for its immersive nature and breadth of scope in depicting gendered lives and different socio-economic classes as Oman transitions into a modern society.
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
560 reviews7,441 followers
June 25, 2019
It usually isn't a great omen when you see that a 243-page novel begins with a family tree. Every single branch of that tree fights for your attention in this muddled but admirable novel. It takes a hugely skilled writer to try to weave the tapestry that this novel wants to be but Alharthi is not that writer. She perhaps isn't helped by Marilyn Booth's translation which often reads like a direct translation of the original Arabic and thus falls completely flat even when the story turns fantastical. Abdallah's airborne chapters keep the novel from crash landing, thankfully.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,050 followers
April 13, 2020
This is the first novel by a woman in Oman to be translated into English, and it won the International Booker Prize. I learned a lot about Oman's history and traditions in the background but most of the story is about multiple generations in the village of al-Awafi.

This book kept sending me on rabbit holes to learn about Omani food so yes I did sacrifice one of my remaining cups of flour to try making khubz ragag, which doesn't work in a non-stick pan, so I ended up with flat bread. It's fine. I did randomly have date syrup and apricot paste on hand, so it made a tasty snack.
Profile Image for Hussain Hamadi.
461 reviews647 followers
September 14, 2019

مراجعة وتقييم 📖

معلومات_أولية_عن_الكتاب ❓

1. عنوان الكتاب : سيدات القمر
2. نوع الكتاب : رواية
3. عدد الصفحات :223 صفحة
4. المؤلف : جُوخة الحارثي ( عمانية الجنسية )
5. دار النشر : دار الآداب للنشر والتوزيع
6.نوع القراءة : ورقي
7.مكان الشراء : جملون
انها حكاية لثلاث شقيقات ( أسماء وميا وخولة ) نتتبع حكاياتهم المتداخلة في سرد متداخل يأتي لنا تارةً على لسان الشخصيات وتارةً على لسان الراوي ونرى من خلال تلك الحكايات أسرار عديدة تنتقل بنا بين الحاضر والماضي ولا تجتمع أركان تلك الحكايات وتكتمل الصورة الا في نهاية الرواية.
بلغة بسيطة وساحرة قريبة للقلب والعقل تجد نفسك تنخرط لا شعورياً فيها مُجذب بالسرد والوصف لحزمة كبيرة من الأشجان والمشاعر المتضاربة وتستوعب مجرى ذلك السرد بعد فترة من طي صفحاتها .
ستعيش مع شخصيات عديدة وعوالم من الماضي وأخرى من الحاضر مع بعض الأحداث التاريخية القديمة لقرية العوامي تمتد من زمن العبيد والأسياد حتى زمن الحاضر القريب في توليفة رائعة.
سترى حُب لم يرى النور وغدر الاقارب وقسوة الأهل وضياع الحبيبة وخذلان الحبيب وصبر البائس القابع بين الحاضر والماضي وحلم العبد بالحرية وستعيش كل ذلك مع ( مسعودة، ومنين، وزايد، حبيب ، ظريفة وابنها سنجر، والشيخ عزان، والشيخ مسعود، والتاجر سليمان، وعبدالله، وسالمة ، وخولة، واسماء،وميا،وحنان،ولندن.. وآخرون).
لقد كان شغف قرائتي لهذه الرواية هو الكم الذي نالته من الإعلام بين مؤيد ومُحب لها وبين ساخط وغاضب عليها ، ونصيحتي بعد تجربتي هذه أن لا تدع حكم الآخرين يثنيك عن رغبة قراءة عمل لما لأنه لقي الإساءة الإعلامية عليه فكل شخص لديه عقله الخاص ومشاعره الخاصة التي تستوجب منه أن يحترمها ويعتز بها.
أمنح تجربتي هذه مع الكتاب الذي رأيت فيه كم كبير من الانسيابية الشاعرية في الوصف والحبكة الجميلة رغم ضعف الحوارات بين الشخصيات 4 / 5 .

#سيدات_القمر #جوخة_الحارثي #دار_الآداب_للنشر_والتوزيع
سؤال للقراء: هل قرأت هذا العمل للمؤلف؟! هل قرأت عملاً آخراً له ؟! ما هو وما انطباعك ؟!؟!
#ملاحظة :
الكتاب متوفر الكترونياً لعشاق القراءة إلكترونياً 📲
تنويه : لستُ ناقد أدبي فأنا مجرد قارىء أكتب رائي الشخصي فقط.
المراجعة على الإنستقرام 👇🏻😊
Profile Image for W.
1,185 reviews4 followers
November 22, 2020
This is the first novel originally written in Arabic that I've read.Wouldn't have heard of it if it wasn't a Booker Prize winner.

The setting is Oman and I'm always keen to read books set in different countries and cultures.

However,the book was rather underwhelming.Not much of a plot and disparate stories.It is mostly about women's domestic lives in Oman plus a male character Abdallah.There isn't enough drama,excitement or impact.As for humour,it's entirely missing.

The most notable part was about the institution of slavery,which was abolished only in 1970.Slaves could be bought and sold by traders and female slaves could be kept as concubines.

Apart from that,the cultural insights aren't all that informative.I skimmed through the book,so it was a quick read.Not the sort of book that would hold my rapt attention.(That is generally the case with me and Booker winners).

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Pamela.
173 reviews82 followers
May 9, 2019
الكائنات منفصلة حتى في اتصالها وهذا أقسى أنواع العزلة.
Profile Image for Pavel Nedelcu.
303 reviews124 followers
March 20, 2022

The idea was not bad at all. The execution of the idea, on the other hand, was not exactly one of the best. It is true that there is little Omani literature available in the West. As we almost don’t have any expectation, it is also clear that anything could work just fine. However...

If there is no conflict, a novel becomes a sort of encyclopedia about a country, a society and a culture, namely the Omani, however briefly and dispersedly addressed. I got excited at the beginning about all the elements that might have become surprise triggers for Westerners: women who give birth standing and without screaming, to give just one example, one of the many.

But then we get lost in bad poems, in ill-advised streams of consciousness further fragmenting the novel (which already has a fragmentary structure), in stories of past ancestors who have no fundamental roles in the conflict, if not to highlight the historical evolution of the country. Interesting, of course, but again, not exaclty what you’d expect to find in a work of fiction.

Thus, in these parts we go on reading by a push, by reflex and no longer with enthusiasm, especially towards the end, as throughout the entire novel something really wow was expected to happen – and failed in being delivered in due time.

I am a little disappointed, I wanted to give it 5 stars at the beginning, then four, but as I progressed with the reading, I was left with three only.

I can only hope other works of the author will reveal more engaging.
Profile Image for Hasan Al Tomy.
196 reviews86 followers
May 20, 2023
كان أي شيء سيكفيني، أي شيء سيملأ حقل قلبي بالثمار النافعة.
أي شيء سيملأ السلال الممدودة لك وحدك.
أي شيء: رسالة ورقية من كلمة واحدة. رنة بعد منتصف الليل، منام خاطف لا تولي فيه ظهرك، خطوة صغيرة واحدة، التفاتة بطيئة واحدة.
أي شيء. حتى زمجرة غضب، حتى تنهيدة ضجر، حتى هدنة رخيصة.
أي شيء كان كثيرا.
لكن أي شيء لم يأت. أي شيء.
والآن، كل شيء لا يكفي.
كل شيء أقل من أن يبرعم ورقة واحدة في حقل صعقه الشتاء
Profile Image for Tahani Shihab.
592 reviews830 followers
May 24, 2019

قرأت 44 صفحة ولم أستطع أن أكمل الرواية.
النجمة للمجهود الذي بذلتهُ لفهم الصفحات التي قرأتها.
Profile Image for Ebtihal Salman.
Author 1 book330 followers
May 27, 2019
سيدات القمر

هذه الرواية الجميلة والمتدفقة بسلاسة وحميمية جعلتني أطوي الصفحات سريعا، دون شعور، ودون رغبة بالوصول للنهاية.
ورغم الفترة القصيرة التي أمضيتها مع الشخصيات، لكن العلاقة تخلق معهم وتتوطد عبر عشرات التفاصيل الصغيرة، لما هم عليه، لشكل حياتهم، لمنازلهم التي تدخل إليها وتعرف تفاصيلها، لطعامهم الذي تأكله معهم، وأحاديثهم التي تشاركهم إياها، مشاعرهم ومخاوفهم، وصراعاتهم من أجل الحب.

تقول جوخة الحارثي في روايتها هذه الكثير، عن الانسان، وعن عمان، وعن شكل الحياة المتغيرة ببطء عبر أجيال متعددة. تتعدد شخصياتها الغزيرة، وتتشابك مصائرهم، وتمنح لكل منهم مساحته الخاصة، لكننا نكون أقرب لعبدالله الذي يتناوب سرد الحكاية في بعض الفصول، عبر استعادة الذكريات، مع راوٍ يمر على بقية الشخصيات ويخبرنا بقصصها المتشابكة. تبدأ الحكاية من زواج ميا وعبدالله، في وقت ما من بداية الثمانينات، انجابها طفلتها الأولى لندن وذهابا إلى الوقت الذي تعرف فيه لندن الحب والزواج. لكنها تتداعى في ماض أقدم يمتد مئة عام إلى الوراء لتعود بحكايا الآباء والأجداد. تكبر القصص عبر عبدالله وميا لتخبرنا عن عائلتيهما. نتابع مصائر الشخصيات النسائية العديدة والمتنوعة في أنماط تفكيرها وعاطفتها، أمهات وبنات وحفيدات، التي اقتربت وابتعدت عن أشكال مختلفة من الحب. من أسماء المحبة لقراءة التراث، إلى خولة التي بدت كمدام بوفاري أخرى: التأثر بالروايات العاطفية فوق ما يلزم لحياة طيبة. قد تكون تحولات الحب عند خولة أحدى أكثر القصص تأثيرا بالنسبة لي في هذه الر��اية. ولا تخلو الرواية من شخصيات رجالية مؤثرة لكن الحضور النسائي طاغ فيها.

يتصاعد الزمن في بعض الفصول بإتجاه المستقبل، ويعود للماضي عبر الذكريات، ويكشف ومضات من المستقبل مقدما في سياق الحاضر. وشيئا فشيئا تكشف الرواية عن أسرارها وعن صورتها الكاملة، كقطع بازل تلتصق ببعضها وتصنع شكل الحياة.

الرواية غنية بالتفاصيل الوصفية: للمكان، القرية ”العوافي“، المنازل و الأثاث، الأدوات والملابس، العادات والمعتقدات، طبيعة حياة الناس وتعاملهم مع المناسبات المختلفة: الزواج، الموت، الانجاب، و شكل العلاقات المختلفة التي تجمعهم، آباء وأبناء وأخوان و أزواج وجيران، سادة وعبيد، لكن كل هذه التفاصيل مزروعة بسلاسة وعفوية سردية تفادت الوقوع في مطب التقرير واحتفظت بروح الرواية. كذلك نجد السرد يتضمن العديد من الأمثال الشعبية على لسان ”ظريفة“ والشعر العربي على لسان بعض الشخصيات. وأفهم كيف يمكن لهذه الرواية أن تكون بوابة للإطلاع على عالم ”عمان“ فيما قبل المدنية المعاصرة.

تخبرنا الرواية عن شكل الثراء وأسبابه مشيرة إلى تجارة السلاح وتجارة الرقيق. وتخبرنا أيضا عن الجوع والفقر. يشكل العبيد جزء مهما من شخصيات الرواية، التي تحكي مشاهد من حياتهم، وعلاقتهم بالسادة الذي يتنقلون بين بيوتهم بيعا وشراء، بخاصة عبر حياة ظريفة التي كانت الأم الوحيدة التي عرفها عبدالله، وظل ممزقا بين كونها مجرد عبدة، لكنها عبدة والده الأثيرة، والصدر الأمومي الوحيد الذي عرف. ظريفة التي وُلدت عبدة ولا تعرف بيتا ولا وطنا غير العوافي، فلا تستطيع أن تفهم تمرد ابنها ولا حاجته للهجرة إلى بلاد أخرى يبدأ فيها حياة حرة من جديد. نرى كيف يلد العبيد عبيدا، وكيف يتغير حال الجيل الجديد من أبناء العبيد بعد إلغاء الرق، لكن المجتمع ونظرته الطبقية لا يتغير كثيرا.

يتقلب المسار السردي على لسان عبدالله بين ذكرياته الشائكة لعلاقته مع والده، وهذيانه وتردده بين الحلم واليقظة تحت وطأة آلام ماضيه وحاضره، ضحك ميا ردا على حبه لها، قسوة والده التي لم يشف من جروحها، والتزامه ببره الذي يأخذه في مشاوير طويلة بين العوافي ومسقط، ثم كيف يعود ليشبه والده في علاقته مع ابنه بالذات.

تسرد الرواية أيضا على هامشها، بعض التحولات السياسية التي أثرت في مصائر الشخصيات، النزاع الحربي بين السلطنة والإمامة في بداية القرن الماضي، وكيف تزحف المدنية والعادات الجديدة على عادات القرية، بخفاء تخطيط الفتيات السري لإضافة عناصر جديدة لجهاز العروس الذي أعدته الأم.

إن كان من شيء كان يمكن أن يجعل الرواية أجمل، فهو المزيد من التكثيف لبعض الشخصيات (خولة، العلاقة بين ميا والطفل محمد مثلا) التي استحقت المزيد من المساحة والضوء، لكن تزاحمها لم يمنحها الفرصة.

لقد استمتعت بالرواية، بالحيوات التي سردتها، والشخوص التي شعرت بها قريبة وحميمة واهتممت بها، وبالتقنيات والتنقلات التي رسمت القصة بجمال واحتفظت بما تضيفه للصورة حتى النهاية.

اقتباس من الرواية:

(أرادت أن تقول له: كان أي شيء سيكفيني، أي شيء سيملأ حقل قلبي بالثمار النافعة.
أي شيء سيملأ السلال الممدودة لك وحدك.
أي شيء: رسالة ورقية من كلمة واحدة.
رنة بعد منتصف الليل، منام خاطف لا تولي فيه ظهرك، خطوة صغيرة واحدة، التفاتة بطيئة واحدة.
أي شيء.
حتى زمجرة غضب، حتى تنهيدة ضجر، حتى هدنة رخيصة.
أي شيء كان كثيرا.
لكن أي شيء لم يأت.
أي شيء.
والآن، كل شيء لا يكفي. كل شيء أقل من أن يبرعم ورقة واحدة في حقل صعقه الشتاء.)
Profile Image for Shwan Majeed.
200 reviews161 followers
July 7, 2019
حين رأت ميا عليّ بن خلف، ��ان قد أمضى سنوات في لندن للدراسة وعاد بلا شهادة، لكنّ رؤيته صعقتْ ميا في الحال. كان طويلاً لدرجة أنّه لامس سحابةً عجلى مرقتْ في السماء، ونحيلاً لدرجة أنّ ميا أرادت أن تسنده من الريح التي حملت السحابة بعيداً. كان نبيلاً، كان قدّيساً، لم يكن من هؤلاء البشر العاديّين الذين يتعرّقون وينامون ويشتمون. "أحلف لك يا ربّي أنّي لا أريد غيرَ رؤيته مرّة أخرى". رواية من سلطنة عُمان تتناول تحوّلات الماضي والحاضر، وتَجْمع، بلغةٍ رشيقةٍ، بين مآسي بشر لا ينقصهم شيء ومآسي آخرين ينقصهم كلُّ شيء.

الرواية في البداية نوع ما بدأت بشكل محمس وجميل وسلسل نوع ما, ولكن مع مرور القل��ل من الاحداث حسيت بحدوث نوع ما من عدم الفهم او الكركبة ولكن سرعانا ما استوعبت ان المشكلة هي في عدم التناسق بين الاحداث في الرواية, يمكن تكون هذه من احدى مميزات الرواية ولكن انا عن نفسي شخصيا لا احب الاحداث المتداخلة وخاصة تكون منقبلة بين الازمان وصعب نوع ما الفهم.
أحببت جدا العمق في الشخصيات والاسلوب الجميل للسرد وبعض الحوارات القصيرة في الرواية كانت مكتوبة بلغة أدبية جميلة, وايضا جعلني ان اتعمق نوع ما أكثر في طبيعة المجتمع العماني (العزيز على قلبي) ونكتشف الاكثر عنهم, الرواية متداخلة في الاجتماعية والسياسية والتاريخية, وطبعا لا ننسى الصراعات الداخلية للأنسان فقد وفقت بها الكاتبة.
الرواية نوع ما قصيرة ويج��لك تكتشف الكثير من الاشياء والاهم حسب رأي موضوع العبودية وخاصة كانت في الفترة التي تكلم عنها الرواية حساسة وفاصلة في حياتهم وأكيد الحمد لله صارت هذه الشيء من الماضي, ولكن يجعلك تكتشف بعض من حياتهم, رواية جيدة.

When she saw Mia Ali bin Khalaf, he spent years in London to study and returned without a certificate, but his vision immediately shocked Mia. It was so long that it touched a cloud in the sky, so thin that Mia wanted to sway it from the wind that carried the cloud away. He was a nobleman, a saint, not one of those ordinary people who were sweating, sleeping and cursing. "I swear to you, Lord, I do not want to see him again." A novel from the Sultanate of Oman that deals with the transformations of the past and the present, and combines, in graceful language, between the tragedies of human beings who lack nothing and the tragedies of others who lack everything.

The novel at first began to be kind, charming and smooth, but with a few events, I felt some kind of incomprehension or awkwardness. But I quickly realized that the problem was the inconsistency between the events in the novel. But I personally do not like events that are particularly intertwined and be receptive to the times and difficult kind of understanding.
I loved very depth in the characters and the beautiful style of narration and some of the short dialogues in the novel were written in a beautiful literary language, and also made me to deepen some kind of more in the nature of the Omani society (dear to my heart) and discover the most about them, the novel overlaps in social, political and historical, The interior of the human has been rewarded by the writer.
The novel is a kind of short and makes you discover a lot of things and the most important according to the opinion of the subject of slavery, especially in the period he spoke about the novel sensitive and separable in their lives and sure, thank God this thing of the past, but makes you discover some of their lives, a good novel.
Profile Image for Robert.
2,000 reviews195 followers
May 22, 2019
One reason why I follow the Man Booker International is because it is a passport to different countries. In the case of Celestial Bodies, the author, and setting of the book is Oman, a country I know nothing about. I like it even more when an author goes into depth about the country’s traditions. Luckily this happens in Celestial Bodies.

The novel is a cleverly structured family saga. Within the three generations there’s lost loves, forced marriage, cheating, wayward children, disappointments, achievements and so on.

However Alharthi approaches this often common set up in a different way. First of all it is in non chronological order so the reader has to piece everything together. Secondly there’s two narrators which help the reader fill in the gaps. Thirdly Alharthi fuses in a history of Oman, from it’s colonial roots to it’s modernisation, both materialistically and in values. This, in my opinion is where the book excels. Reading about such things as food and traditions were fascinating, furthermore how these traditions changes with each generation was something I found particularly insightful.

The translation is fantastic, very smooth and flowing, a pure pleasure to read. In all Celestial Bodies was a nice surprise and I definitely recommend it for someone who has never been able to experience Oman literature.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,431 reviews2,511 followers
February 13, 2022
This is a book where I could appreciate the technical skill of the writing and valued the insight into Oman culture - but where I struggled to feel emotionally engaged.

The book collapses time as each chapter roams achronologically so that the unity comes in the reader's mind as we piece together the family stories of which the narrative is comprised. It's shocking to realise how relatively recently slavery was abolished in Oman, and how integrated former slaves were with their owner families.

There's an interest, too, in women's lives: love, marriage, childbirth, mark a tempo through the text, and we note the fast-forward of London, a doctor, driving around in a sports car, in comparison to her mother and aunts who were barely allowed an education.

I especially liked the connections to Bedouin life and the allusions to classical Arabic myths and poetry. But for all the good stuff, I was forcing myself through this book, taking 11 days to read around 250 short pages. I'm not sure if it was the translation but I remained detached and never managed to close the emotional gap between me and this narrative.
Profile Image for Abbie | ab_reads.
603 reviews448 followers
April 14, 2019
3.5 stars
Thank you so much @sandstonepress for sending me Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi in my attempt to read ALL the translated works from the Man Booker International long-list - and a huge congrats on this one being shortlisted! I enjoyed it, and I think had I read it when I was not working 13 days in a row with zero time to read I would have loved it a lot more.
I read the first 100 pages over 4 whole days and for me, 25 pages a day is just not enough to get into the flow of a book and it made me feel like the book itself was stilted - it’s not. Once I got home and I had my evenings to read again, I realised that the short chapters and different perspectives used made it very compelling and easy to become absorbed in.
It’s a family saga (you know I love a family saga), focusing on three sisters in a village in Oman. Mayya, Asma and Khawla are all going through various stages of relationships, marriages, love and loss, and all these stories intertwine to create rather a vast and multifaceted story.
I was in awe of the translation as the writing felt so smooth and readable - I studied Arabic for a year in my first year of uni and it is a HARD (but beautiful!) language and Marilyn does a fantastic job with it. There was quite a lot of poetry included (all the lovers very much enjoy reciting poems at each other) which I will admit lost me somewhat, but overall I enjoyed it and I think I’d benefit from a reread where I could give the first 100 pages the attention they deserve!

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