Reading Life Backwards: Omani Novelist Jokha Alharthi

Jokha Alharthi burst to sudden international literary stardom in 2019, when her second novel, Sayyidat al-Qamr (tr. Marilyn Booth as Celestial Bodies), won the International Booker. The novel, touted as the “first by an Omani woman to be translated to English,” has since appeared in languages around the world. More novels by Omani women, including Bushra Khalfan’s The Garden, are forthcoming in English translation, and Alharthi’s Narinja (also tr. Booth, as Bitter Orange Tree) will appear in May 2022. In this episode, we talk Omani literature, history, translation, and the extraordinary Bitter Orange Tree.

Show Notes

Six Languages, Six Covers: Celestial Bodies Around the World

On Turning ‘Sayyidat al-Qamr’ into ‘Celestial Bodies’ and the Tyranny of the New

New Yorker review: An Omani Novel Exposes Marriage and Its Miseries

Excerpt of Celestial Bodies on WWB: London

Excerpt of Bitter Orange Tree on Carnegie Foundation website: Al-Rahma

Interview with Jokha Alharthi

More at Alharthi’s website,

Our episode on Sonallah Ibrahim’s novel Warda, also set in Oman.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter