As we shelter in place to continue to do our part to help alleviate the coronavirus pandemic, our bi-monthly Women in Translation book club moves online via Zoom. If you’re interested in participating – and all are welcome! – please email me, the moderator, at natasha at idlewild books dot com, and I’ll send you the Zoom link!


Meeting every other Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time, the book club discusses a work of literature by a female/femme-identifying author, translated into English. For the month of June we meet on Sunday the 7th to discuss Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth. Books can be purchased via the link to our store. You can also check out our other book club picks here, as well as a larger list of favorite books by women in translation.


The novel is a multi-generational book following primarily three sisters from Oman and the different paths they take. This book is unique for a number of reasons, not least of which is the scarcity of literature from Oman into English, and the glimpse this story offers into a society that was one of the last to abolish slavery in the world, in 1970. This theme figures into the novel, as well as themes of patriarchy, marriage, and the rapid modernization of an ancient society. The author, Alharthi, is an academic who specializes in poetry, so the language, masterfully translated by Booth (enough so to earn them the first Man Booker Prize for a novel translated from Arabic!) promises to be rich.


If you are not going to join via Zoom, here are some links to explore the world of the novel on your own!