Truth be told I picked this up at an airport bookstore, overpowered by the confirmation bias – “A Booker prize winner!! Whoa!!”
( Take one look at my bookshelf and you would know that why confirmation bias is a bias ! There are at least 3-4 booker prize winners waiting for their turn to be acknowledged, or scrolled past their first few chapters, forever looming in the limbo like Leonardo did in Inception.)
Yet this one I finished, and that too within 3-4 weeks. So yay ! The-one-which-escaped-the-limbo and lived upto it’s bias. Congratulations Jokha Alharti for writing this gem.
Celestial Bodies has an interesting, intricate and intelligent plot set in a village in Al-Awafi, Oman, and it oscillates timelessly between three generations of a merchant family. Primarily focused on three sisters and their life and their marriage. The book is been intricately written memoir from viewpoint of various characters, and it bounds you to the story like a fluidly flowing sitcom plot. Few episodes and you feel for the characters- Mayya, Asma and Khawla.
It was my first book from Gulf ( you can count close neighbor Turkey if you include Orhan Pamuk’s writings) and the reason why it became more interesting like a documentary drama running on NatGeo, telling about the life in a Oman village, the culture the people, how they evolved through last few decades. The whole narrative weaves an intricate carpet of emotions from a first-person and third person’s viewpoint. Although in the beginning, the non-linear literary locus of characters is a bit difficult to follow(and that’s where readers leave seemingly difficult bookers may be ?) the story grows over you slowly- layers upon layers – like a rich caramel cake of alphabets.
Try it and you will not be disappointed if you love good old fiction with experimental storylines and peek into the world of Gulf across three family generations.