Oman author Jokha Alharthi wins Booker International Prize

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Arabic author Jokha Alharthi poses after winning the Man Booker International Prize for the book 'Celestial Bodies' in London on May 21, 2019. (AFP)
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Arabic author Jokha Alharthi (L) and translator Marilyn Booth pose after winning the Man Booker International Prize for the book 'Celestial Bodies' in London on May 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 22 May 2019
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Oman author Jokha Alharthi wins Booker International Prize

  • The prize is a counterpart to the Man Booker Prize for English-language novels and is open to books in any language that have been translated into English

LONDON: Omani author Jokha Alharthi won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize on Tuesday for “Celestial Bodies,” the story of three sisters in a desert country confronting its slave-owning past and a complex modern world.
Alharthi is the first Arabic-language writer to get the prize and the first female writer from Oman to be translated into English. She will split the 50,000 pound ($64,000) purse with her UK-based translator, Marilyn Booth.
Historian Bettany Hughes, who led the judging panel, said the “lyrical” winning novel was “a book to win over the head and the heart in equal measure.”
“Celestial Bodies” confronts Oman’s history of slavery, which was abolished in the country only in 1970.
“It’s a sensitive subject and kind of a taboo,” Alharthi said in onstage interview at the awards ceremony in London. “But I think literature is the best platform to discuss sensitive issues. And slavery is not exclusive to Oman — it’s part of human history.”
She said her victory meant “a window has been opened to Arabic literature.”
“Celestial Bodies” beat five other finalists from Europe and South America, including last year’s winner, Olga Tokarczuk of Poland.
The prize is a counterpart to the Man Booker Prize for English-language novels and is open to books in any language that have been translated into English.
This is the final year of sponsorship by investment firm Man Group PLC, which is halting backing after 18 years. Starting next year the award will be known as the International Booker Prize.


‘Hunger Games’ prequel book and film planned

Updated 18 June 2019
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‘Hunger Games’ prequel book and film planned

  • The new book will revisit Panem 64 years before the events of the trilogy during a period known as the “Dark Days”
  • Movie studio Lionsgate said another film was already being planned

LOS ANGELES: A new “Hunger Games” novel set decades before the original best-selling trilogy will be published next year, its publisher said Monday, with plans for an accompanying film already under way.
The book will revisit the macabre post-apocalyptic world of Panem created by Suzanne Collins’ young adult novels, which were adapted into one of Hollywood’s biggest movie franchises starring Jennifer Lawrence.
The original books, which sold more than 100 million copies, told the story of Katniss Everdeen, a teenage heroine forced by the realm’s totalitarian leaders to participate in a reality TV-style fight to the death.
The new book will revisit Panem 64 years before the events of the trilogy during a period known as the “Dark Days,” in which the nation “struggles to get back to its feet” after a devastating war, Collins said.
Four films based on the trilogy of novels — the final book was split into two parts — turned Lawrence into an A-list movie star and grossed $2.97 billion worldwide.
Movie studio Lionsgate said another film was already being planned.
“As the proud home of the Hunger Games movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published,” said Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.
“We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.”
Author Collins said the book would explore “the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival.”
The as-yet untitled book will be published on May 19, 2020.