Jokha Alharthi


Silken Gazelles

A Novel

“In Alharthi’s world, it’s not only the future that holds promise; the past has possibility and opportunities for revision, too." —The New York Times Book Review

From Man Booker International Prize-winning author of Celestial Bodies and Bitter Orange Tree, a new novel about two Omani women whose unbreakable connection is forged as nursing sisters—a bond considered akin to that of a birth sibling

Raised as sisters, Ghazaala is devastated when her friend Asiya is forced to leave their small mountainside village following a tragic circumstance. It’s a separation that haunts her into adulthood, and she never gives up on finding a love that might replace the bond they shared.

Years later, Ghazaala’s family moves to Muscat, where she falls in love with a professional violinist who lives in their building. She completely surrenders herself to his charm and, despite her parents’ opposition, runs away from home to marry him. While balancing the duties of a new wife—caring for her husband, their home, and, before long, their twin boys—Ghazaala resumes her education and enrolls in university.

Ghazaala's sharp wit catches the attention of another student, Harir, during their freshman year. In the pages of her diary, Harir recounts the story of her deepening, transformative friendship with Ghazaala over the course of ten years. The elusive, ghostly existence of Asiya exerts a force over both their lives, yet neither Ghazaala nor Harir is aware of the connection. From the brilliant mind of Jokha Alharthi comes a tale of childhood friendship, and how its significance—and loss—can be recalibrated at different stages of life.

Bitter Orange Tree

A TIME Best Book of the Year
A New Yorker Best Book of the Year

An extraordinary novel from a Man Booker International Prize-winning author that follows one young Omani woman as she builds a life for herself in Britain and reflects on the relationships that have made her from a “remarkable” writer who has “constructed her own novelistic form” (James Wood, The New Yorker).

From Man Booker International Prize–winning author Jokha Alharthi, Bitter Orange Tree is a profound exploration of social status, wealth, desire, and female agency. It presents a mosaic portrait of one young woman’s attempt to understand the roots she has grown from, and to envisage an adulthood in which her own power and happiness might find the freedom necessary to bear fruit and flourish.

Zuhour, an Omani student at a British university, is caught between the past and the present. As she attempts to form friendships and assimilate in Britain, she can’t help but ruminate on the relationships that have been central to her life. Most prominent is her strong emotional bond with Bint Amir, a woman she always thought of as her grandmother, who passed away just before Zuhour left the Arabian Peninsula.

As the historical narrative of Bint Amir’s challenged circumstances unfurls in captivating fragments, so too does Zuhour’s isolated and unfulfilled present, one narrative segueing into another as time slips and dreams mingle with memories.

Celestial Bodies

This winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize and national bestseller is “an innovative reimagining of the family saga . . . Celestial Bodies is itself a treasure house: an intricately calibrated chaos of familial orbits and conjunctions, of the gravitational pull of secrets" (The New York Times Book Review).

In the village of al-Awafi in Oman, we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla, who chooses to refuse all offers and await a reunion with the man she loves, who has emigrated to Canada.

These three women and their families, their losses and loves, unspool beautifully against a backdrop of a rapidly changing Oman, a country evolving from a traditional, slave-owning society into its complex present. Through the sisters, we glimpse a society in all its degrees, from the very poorest of the local slave families to those making money through the advent of new wealth.

The first novel originally written in Arabic to ever win the Man Booker International Prize, and the first book by a female Omani author to be translated into English, Celestial Bodies marks the arrival in the United States of a major international writer.