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Summary

Winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2019

Celestial Bodies is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla, who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. 

These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society slowly redefining itself after the colonial era to the crossroads of its complex present. 

Elegantly structured and taut, Celestial Bodies is a coiled spring of a novel, telling of Oman's coming of age through the prism of one family's losses and loves.

©2019 Jokha Alharthi (P)2019 W. F. Howes Ltd

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A family saga set in Oman

I had never read anything about Oman or its societal structures before embarking on this story so a lot of it was very surprising indeed.
This is essentially the story of three very different sisters who are brought up in a small, sheltered, superstitious rural community in post-colonial Oman. The narrative covers many different aspects of family life and much is made of the differences between the lives of men and women, the clashes between the older and younger generations and the aspirations for a better life outside of Oman's claustrophobic, patriarchal society.. The sections on Oman's colonial history and its previous guise as a slave-owning society were the most interesting parts for me, but I also enjoyed learning about the various superstitions and customs relating to marriage, childbirth and motherhood.

The narrative is very well written but it suffers a little from a huge cast of characters whose lives are described across several generations. It was, I felt, quite difficult at times to keep track of the various threads which jumped back and forth between time periods. But overall I enjoyed the story and I'm glad I read it. The narration was a little disappointing too; it was lacklustre and never really took off for me, which was a shame.

2 people found this helpful

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disorganized storyline :(

could have been a nice book but the storyline is disorganized and hard to follow

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Boring

Mundane story and poor narration, but that's often the way with Man Booker prize winners.

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Really irritating book and aerator

The narrator attempted to impersonate each of the many characters was unsuccessful and irritating. Too many Nara refs and none of them developed enough to care about.

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Don’t bother

The narration was excellent but couldn’t make up for a story where I was just not interested in any of the characters at all. There are a lot of characters so that’s potentially one of the reasons it didn’t work and may work alright as a book but one of the worst audiobooks I’ve ever listened to