Celestial Bodies


Title: Moonlight Girls

Author: Harithi Squad

Translator: Monira Jian Tabasi

Publisher: Azarmidakht

Subject: Arabic stories

Age category: Adult

Number of pages: 260

Language: Farsi

Categories: ,


The novel of Celestial Bodies is the work of Al-Harithi Squad.

Characters and multiplicity of sounds make it possible for the reader to see each event from several different angles and to achieve something new each time.

The issues that are challenged in this novel are among the concerns that every man and woman in the Middle East has touched and even been involved with.

This novel makes it possible to find ourselves and our cultural and social issues in the characters of the novel and to look at ourselves and ourselves from an external space.

The Man Booker Prize, which is awarded annually to a book translated into English, was awarded to the book “Moonlight Girls” by the Omani writer Jokh al-Harithi.
The awarding of such an award to the 41-year-old Arab author shows the growing interest in the literature of Arab countries in recent years. “Daughters of the Moon” can be a great choice to enjoy the richness of Arabic literature. The importance of Al-Harithi’s work becomes clear when we know that last year a similar award for “Moonlight Girls” was awarded to the novel “Flights” by Polish author Olga Tokarچuk, which also won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature. announced. The winners of “Man Booker” in previous years include greats such as Ismail Kardare and Philip Roth.

During the years of Islamophobia and political controversy in the Middle East, Iqbal turned to Arabic literature, which was promising, and marked an amazing year for “storytelling” in the Middle East, and this is exactly the function of art in dark times. The Al-Harithi Prize can be considered as a counterpart to the 1988 Nobel Prize-winning Nobel Prize for inspiring Arabic-speaking writers.
The story of “Mahtab Daughters” revolves around the lives of three sisters named Mia, Asma and Kholeh and narrates their growth, their emotional life, and the upbringing of their children at a time in Oman’s history that was accompanied by cultural, economic and political changes. . Oman’s economic growth, the abolition of slavery in the land, and the penetration of Western language, film, and social attitudes in Oman, and the displacement between tradition and modernity are the least that this novel reflects.

The story of Mia, the first sister, begins with an emotional breakdown, so that the pain of this failure is with Mia even after she marries a rich boy named “Abdullah”. Mia quickly experiences motherhood without having a chance to express her femininity and even lament her emotional failure. His daughter is named “London”, which symbolizes the changes that are coming to Oman and its people.

Mia’s sisters also experience some kind of love, but the discussion about them is presented in less detail than Mia in the novel, and its expression is in line with emphasizing that the only way to get married is to do a task. And as a result, there is a life for the Omani women to experience.
The issue of immigration is also raised during Khoula’s account and her expectation for a man who prefers to live in Canada to stay in the East. The characters in “Moonlight Girls” are good examples of challenging the unquestioning obedience of husband, father, and even tribe that still exists as a requirement in cultures such as Oman in the 21st century.
Each chapter of the book is named after one of the characters in the novel, and in the meantime, special attention has been paid to Abdullah, and the chapter related to him has a first-person narration. This can be considered a successful attempt by the female author of “Moonlight Girls”, which has exposed extremist patriarchy in Arabic culture.

The chapter on Abdullah is accompanied by flashbacks to his childhood and the story of Oman’s independence from Britain, which depicts his life as a wealthy businessman in this historical context, along with the abolition of slavery and the improvement of living conditions in Oman. There are also flashbacks to the future, when “London” has reached adulthood. At this point, Abdullah’s life is filled with worry and fear that his wife will not truly love him. Here, al-Harithi introduces Abdullah to us more intimately with a clever move, and we see that he is not only seeking to create negative images of his character and accuse him throughout the novel.

“Celestial Bodies”, as a photo album
The “Moonlight Girls’ Novel” resembles a collection of pieces of photographs, due to the constant and sometimes brutal jumps that take place between times, places and characters. Sometimes, at a distance of one page, its tone changes from joy to sadness, and even the characters are not given the opportunity to mourn their own grief before being left out. Characters’ thoughts, actions, and encounters occur in a panic and so quickly that it is really stressful.

If the author intends, with this stress, to instill in us a kind of empathy with the characters and to feel what they feel, he has certainly succeeded; In the same way that Marilyn Booth succeeded in translating this turbulent work into English, it completely conveyed the feeling of abandoning the ship of life in a severe storm.
This novel, as a photo album that has been opened before us, lacks solidarity and connected narrative, and the author gives detailed information about each photo and tells a story about it. Now each photo can have a thematic, tone or narrative connection with the previous ones or not at all.

At one point in the story, Abdullah stares out the window of a plane and says to himself, “When we are away from home and in new and strange places, we know ourselves better.” This dialogue by Abdullah is remarkable when we know that al-Harithi himself, at the time of writing this novel, was away from home in 2010 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and that writing such a book was possible only when he was away from home.

Part of the text of the book Celestial Bodies:
I am Naji .Moon. “And I want you.”

Still, years later, his voice and words resonate in Azan.

Azan did not know many women in his life and he certainly never knew a woman as brave as he was. Moon? He must have a nickname beyond the moon.

She was more beautiful than anything she has ever seen in her life.

On a moonlit night, he was seen as if God had preached to his servants with his faith.

She walked away from him, hugged his shoes and ran away. He could not think of anything and ran towards Al-Awafi with all his might.

Introducing the author of the book Mahtab Girls by Jokhe Al-Harithi:
Born in 1978 in Oman, this author and university professor is the first Arab woman writer to win the prestigious Manbooker Literary Prize.

Al-Harithi, who received his doctorate in Arabic literature from the University of Edinburgh and currently teaches Arabic literature in his own country, is the first Omani author to have his works translated into English.

His stories have also been translated into German, Italian, Korean and Serbian.

Al-Harithi won the Booker Prize for his extraordinary novel The Moonlight Daughters (Sidat al-Qamar).

This novel is a narration of the life of three sisters named Mia, Asma and Kholeh in the village of Al-Awafi in Oman, who live in the Oman community during the colonial period.
These three sisters witness the social developments of Oman with their own complexities in the post-colonial era; The traditional country where slavery was common until 50 years ago is suddenly changing to today. But these three sisters and their society find themselves in a paradox of tradition and modernity.

Mahtab Daughters is a work by Haresi Squad, translated by Narges Bigdeli and published by Afraz Publications. The present novel is about the life of three sisters named Mia, Kholeh and Asma, and with its constant travels to the past, present and future, it depicts the Omani society in traditional and modern conditions. “Moonlight Girls” has won the 2019 Booker Prize.

Another part of the book Celestial Bodies:
Mia opened her eyes and looked carefully at her baby. He was very thin and screamed loudly. He gently ran his hand over the child’s short, black hair and, to his surprise, could not control himself. Is this a motherly feeling? Asma asked her every day, “How does it feel to be a mother?” “The biggest feeling in the world?” And Mia was silent. All he felt was extreme tiredness, back and abdominal pain, and a very bad need for a bath.

The itching on her head was unbearable, and her mother finally allowed her to wash herself quickly, without water getting into her hair, because the cold would kill the women in labor, and if they caught a cold, the fever would be fatal. Asma questioned the motherly feelings and the intimacy and affection that developed between mother and baby after breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding means living the night and fighting with the baby to open his mouth and endure back pain due to long sitting; But Mia did not say that and just listened to her sister and was silent. Mia felt that silence is the highest thing a person can do when she is silent, she can hear others better, and when she is tired of what they are saying, she enjoys being silent for herself.

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