Celestial Bodies wins £50,000 Man Booker International Prize

Celestial Bodies has won the £50,000 Man Booker International Prize for 2019.

The book was written by Jokha Alharthi, the first Gulf writer to win the award.

Her novel was translated by US academic Professor Marilyn Booth from the original Arabic.

Both writer and translator were praised for their work and the prize money has been divided between them.

Celestial Bodies follows the story of three sisters in Oman as the cultural landscape of the nation slowly evolves.

Historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes presented the prize at a ceremony at the Roundhouse in London.

She said of the winning book: “Its delicate artistry draws us into a richly imagined community – opening out to tackle profound questions of time and mortality and disturbing aspects of our shared history.

“The style is a metaphor for the subject, subtly resisting cliches of race, slavery and gender. The translation is precise and lyrical, weaving in the cadences of both poetry and everyday speech.

“Celestial Bodies evokes the forces that constrain us and those that set us free.”

Luke Ellis, chief executive of Man Group, added: “As one of the first literary awards to celebrate the work of international authors and, in recent years, to celebrate fiction in translation, the Man Booker International Prize plays an invaluable role in encouraging a diversity of voice in fiction worldwide.”

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