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

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.


Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

Updated 16 November 2019

Australian man survives croc attack by gouging its eye

  • Wildlife ranger Craig Dickmann made a split-second decision to go fishing in a remote part of Northern Australia known as ‘croc country.’
  • ‘That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws’

CAIRNS, Australia: An Australian wildlife ranger has recounted his terrifying escape from the clutches of a “particularly cunning” crocodile, after wrestling with the reptile and sticking a finger in its eye.
Craig Dickmann, who made a split-second decision to go fishing last Sunday in a remote part of Northern Australia known as “croc country” last Sunday, said a 2.8-meter (nine-foot) crocodile came up from behind him as he was leaving the beach.
“As I’ve turned to go, the first thing I see is its head just come at me,” he told reporters on Friday from his hospital bed in the town of Cairns in Queensland state.
Dickmann said the animal latched on to his thigh.
“That noise will haunt me forever I think, the sound of the snap of its jaws,” he said.
The 54-year-old said he wrestled with the croc on the remote beach as it tried to drag him into the water.
Dickmann stuck his thumb into its eye, saying it was the only “soft spot” he found on the “bullet-proof” animal.
“Their eyes retract a fair way and when you go down far enough you can feel bone so I pushed as far as I possibly could and then it let go at that point,” Dickmann said.
After a few minutes, he said he managed to get on top of the croc and pin its jaws shut.
“And then, I think both the croc and I had a moment where we’re going, ‘well, what do we do now?’”
Dickmann said he then pushed the croc away from him and it slid back into the water.
The ranger had skin ripped from his hands and legs in the ordeal and drove more than 45 minutes back to his home before calling emergency services.
It was then another hour in the car to meet the Royal Flying Doctors Service who flew him to Cairns Hospital, where he is recovering from the ordeal.
“This croc was particularly cunning and particularly devious,” he said.
Queensland’s department of environment this week euthanized the animal.
“The area is known croc country and people in the area are reminded to always be crocwise,” the department said in a statement.
Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven meters long and weigh more than a ton, are common in the vast continent’s tropical north.
Their numbers have exploded since they were declared a protected species in the 1970s, with attacks on humans rare.
According to the state government, the last non-fatal attack was in January 2018 in the Torres Strait while the last death was in October 2017 in Port Douglas.