Bitter Orange Tree by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth
From the Man Booker International Prize–winning author of Celestial Bodies, a “remarkable” writer who has “constructed her own novelistic form” (James Wood, The New Yorker), an extraordinary novel of one young Omani woman’s life and the relationships that have formed her.
On sale May 10, 2022 • ISBN: 9781646220038
Bitter Orange Tree tells the story of Zuhur, an Omani student at a British university who is caught between the past and the present. As she attempts to form friendships and assimilate in Britain, she reflects on the relationships that have been central to her life. Most prominent is her bond with Bint Amir, a woman she has always thought of as her grandmother, who passed away just after Zuhur left the Arabian Peninsula. Bint Amir was not, we learn, related to Zuhur by blood, but by an emotional connection far stronger.
As the historical narrative of Bint Amir’s challenged circumstances unfurls in captivating fragments, so too does Zuhur’s isolated and unfulfilled present, one narrative segueing into another as time slips, and dreams mingle with memories.
The eagerly awaiting new novel by the winner of the Man Booker International Prize, Bitter Orange Tree is an extraordinary exploration of social status, wealth, desire, and female agency. In prose that is at once restless and profound, 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.
JOKHA ALHARTHI was the first Omani woman to have a novel translated into English. Celestial Bodies went on to win the Man Booker International Prize and became an international bestseller. Jokha Alharthi is the author of three collections of short fiction, three children’s books, and four novels in Arabic. She completed a PhD in Classical Arabic Poetry in Edinburgh, and teaches at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat.
MARILYN BOOTH holds the Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud Chair for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World at Oxford University. In addition to her academic publications, she has translated many works of fiction from the Arabic, most recently The Penguin’s Song and No Road to Paradise, both by Lebanese novelist Hassan Daoud, and Voices of the Lost by Hoda Barakat. Her translation of Celestial Bodies won the Man Booker International Prize.