Conversation with Jokha Alharthi, International Booker Prize WinnerSaturday, May 7 | 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
- In-Person Only
Brower Center - Goldman Theater
The first Arab writer to win the International Booker (in 2019 for her novel Celestial Bodies), Jokha Alharthi explores one of the most compelling topics in our time: how radical and breakneck social change plays out within families, and indeed how past and present elide within us. The context of Alharthi’s stories is Oman, which emerged from rural poverty (where slavery was legal until 1970 and few girls attended school) in a single generation to become an urban, oil-rich Gulf state where women are highly educated. Alharthi herself received her Ph.D. in Classical Arabic Literature from the University of Edinburgh.
She writes especially of women’s lives, and her new novel, Bitter Orange Tree, tells of a young Omani woman, Zuhur, studying at a British university but haunted by the memory of the just-deceased woman who raised her and whom Zuhur calls grandmother—a woman scarred by poverty and sacrifice. When home, elders, and the old ways are gone, who are we now? And what is “now” if not the holding of all that’s past?
Alharthi’s prose offers this very experience to the reader, moving smoothly between times and different characters’ minds even within the space of a paragraph—”the way starlight seems to flicker when we gaze at distant and nearer celestial bodies,” as critic James Wood wrote in The New Yorker. Come meet this global literary star.
Book signing information: East Wind Books Tent at the Bookstore Blv (corner of Allston & Milvia in the Outdoor Fair) at 12:15 PM
With the support of Words Without Borders and Peter Wiley