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.


US man drowns while proposing underwater in Tanzania

Steven Weber and Kenesha Antoine. (Social media)
Updated 22 September 2019

US man drowns while proposing underwater in Tanzania

  • It is unclear what went wrong during the proposal at Pemba Island, a popular honeymoon destination

NAIROBI: An American man has drowned while proposing to his girlfriend underwater at an idyllic island off the coast of Tanzania, a luxury resort said in a statement Sunday.
His girlfriend Kenesha Antoine posted on her Facebook page footage of Steven Weber proposing to her through the window of their underwater hotel room at the luxury Manta Resort in Zanzibar.
“You never emerged from those depths so you never got to hear my answer, ‘Yes! Yes! A million times, yes, I will marry you!!’,” she wrote Friday in a post confirming his death.
Her video shows Weber swimming up to the window, and pressing a handwritten note against it which read: “I can’t hold my breath long enough to tell you everything I love about you, but everything I love about you I love more every day. Will you please be my wife, marry me.”
He then pulled out a ring as Antoine squealed with joy while filming.
It is unclear what went wrong during the proposal at Pemba Island, a popular honeymoon destination.
“We never got to embrace and celebrate the beginning of the rest of our lives together, as the best day of our lives turned into the worst, in the cruelest twist of fate imaginable,” Antoine wrote.
“Knowing him, always quick with an off-color joke, he’s probably entertaining someone with a story about how he royally screwed up that proposal and died while being extra.”
Manta CEO Matthew Saus confirmed to AFP in an email Sunday that “a male guest tragically drowned while freediving alone outside the underwater room” on Thursday.
“The accident is currently under investigation by the local Zanzibar police authority.”
The couple were staying in the resort’s famed “Underwater Room,” a $1,700 (1,500 euro) a-night floating structure offshore in crystal clear waters, where the bed is surrounded by glass windows looking into the ocean.