Northwestern University in Qatar has selected Omani author Jokha Alharthi’s novel “Celestial Bodies” for this year’s One Book, One NU-Q program.
Jokha Alharthi book is one of “firsts.” It is the first book written by an Omani woman to have her novel translated into English. And it is the first book translated from Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize. The novel was translated by Marilyn Booth.
The book tells the stories of different generations of Omani women from the 1990s to the early 2000s in al-Awafi and their families as they go from a traditional slave-owning society to its new redefining state after the end of the colonial era when Oman went through major economic, political, and societal changes. The coming of age book brings light to the contemporary Omani culture through the lives and losses of the family.
According to Kathleen Hewett-Smith, professor and director of the Liberal Arts Program, and chairperson of the One Book committee, the books resonates with the NU-Q community since it explores the implication of modernization and development on a global level. The book starts with a family and their lives and ends with the world.
The author Jokha Alharthi will be visiting NU-Q on March 29, 2020, for a book reading session and to interact with the community. The book will be used as a medium to provoke discussion in book clubs and classrooms. There will also be a competition by the One Book, One NU-Q program where students will submit photographs based on the theme of the book.
The One Book program encourages the NU-Q community to read a common text and share reactions and experiences. It promotes critical thinking and interdisciplinary learning by creating spaces for discussion through the stories featured in the book and the events that the university hosts in relation to the book.