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Manneker International Award: Joha Alharti is the first Arabian winner

Arabic author Jokha Alharthi (L) and translator Marilyn Booth after winning the Man Booker International Heavenly Body award in London on 21 May 2019Copyright on the image

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Joka Alharty (L) shared the award with Marilyn Bout

Ottoman author Jokha Alharthi won this year's Man Booker International Prize, the first Arabian writer to do so.

Her novel, Heavenly Bodies, focuses on the lives of three sisters and their families who are facing social changes in Oman.

Judges describe it as "a rich imaginary, engaging and poetic insight."

Alharty shares the 50,000-pound prize with his translator, American academician Marilyn Bott.

"I'm excited to have an open window for rich Arab culture," Alharty told journalists after a ceremony at the Roundhouse in London.

"Oman inspires me, but I think international readers can relate to the human values ​​in the book – freedom and love."

The Heavenly Bodies are in the Al-Awafi village and tells the stories of three sisters who witness the cultural evolution of Oman from traditional society in the post-colonial period.

"It touches the subject of slavery, I think literature is the best platform for this dialogue," said Alharty, who was the first female Osman novelist to be translated into English.

Judge chairman, historian Bethany Hughes, said the novel showed "delicate artistic and disturbing aspects of our common history."

"Style is a metaphor for the topic, barely proving the clichés of race, bondage and sex," she added.

Alharty previously wrote two collections of short fiction, a children's book and three novels in Arabic.

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