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06 July 2020

Celestial Bodies wins the Man Booker International Prize 2019

21 May 2019

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth from Arabic and published by our member Sandstone Press has been announced as the winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2019. Huge congratulations to all involved!

The £50,000 prize has been divided equally between its author and translator. Each shortlisted author and translator also received a further £1,000 for being shortlisted. The winner was announced by Bettany Hughes at a ceremony at the Roundhouse in London.

Jokha Alharthi, the first female Omani novelist to be translated into English, is the first author from the Arabian Gulf to win the prize. The author of two other novels, two collections of short fiction and a children's book, her work has been published in English, German, Italian, Korean, and Serbian.  An award-winning author, she has been shortlisted for the Sahikh Zayed Award for Young Writers and won the 2010 Best Omani Novel Award for Celestial Bodies.

Marilyn Booth is an American academic and translator who has translated many works of fiction from Arabic. A fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford, she holds the Khalid bin Abdallah Al Saud Chair for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World at the Oriental Institute.

Celestial Bodies tells of family connections and history in the coming-of-age account of three Omani sisters. It is set against the backdrop of an evolving Oman, which is slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, at the crossroads of its complex present. 

For more information, see the Man Booker Prize website.

For a fascinating interview with Kay Farrell of Sandstone Press who championed, acquired and edited Celestial Bodies, see our website.

The win has generated a lot of media interest including: Dani Garavelli in Scotland on Sunday 26 May 2019; Phil Miller in The Herald 23 May 2019; a BBC website piece 22 May 2019; Jane Bradley in The Scotsman 22 May 2019; Alison Flood in The Guardian 21 May 2019; and Porter Anderson in Publishing Perspectives 21 May 2019.

Sandstone team with MBI Prize 2019

Above: the delighted writer, translator and publishing team outside the Awards venue on 21 May 2019.