After winning the British Booker, Jokha Al-Harthy weaves the “Ghazala Silk” mouthpiece.

It’s as if everyone is abandoning Layla or Ghazala, even she seems to be abandoning herself, when she puts herself in relationships that seem to be failing from the start, is a constant self-torture for her sister Asiyah’s first abandonment.

Omani novelist Jokha Al-Harthi continues her same narrative style in her new novel “The Silk of Al-Ghazala”, recently published by the Beirut House of Arts.

This method is evident in dividing the long story into small pieces scattered on multiple pages. In the sense that it narrates several tales within one novel, but it divides these tales into small pieces, narrates a piece of this tale, and then suddenly narrates a piece of the other tale, and this sequence does not necessarily have to be always reciprocated, but it likes this sudden transition as if it is a kind of Play with the tale and the character as well as the reader.

Poems of Bat

In this new work, Al-Harthy continues to narrate the stories of women from the Omani countryside. The birthplace of the stories was a village called Sharat al-Bat, before its name was changed to “Oasis”. From this small village, full of small aflaj that pass by houses and orchards, the characters will set out, in their normal or forced alienation, to distant regions and cities.

The structure of the novel revolves around the character of Ghazala or Laila, and Harir, and in some way about Saada, Asiyah, Maliha and the rest of the women.

The main character had just been born, and had not yet had a name, and when her mother brought her to the family home in Sha’rat al-Batt, she saw women weeping, and then they told her that her father had died. Fathiya threw her daughter, who has no name, into the air, sobbing with the women. Sa’da grabbed her before she fell to the ground.

Ghazala was the name Saada gave her when she took her in her lap and nursed her milk. As for her mother, Fathia, when she came to her senses, she brought the baby back to her home and named her Laila. In the birth certificate they recorded Layla and they did the same at school, except for the birth certificate and school certificates, no one but her mother had ever called her Layla.

the player

Ghazala will become a suckling sister, Asiyah. Their mother, Saada, is a tragic novelist in every sense of the word, and she has been subjected to many tragedies, the last of which was the drowning of her daughter Zahwa in one of the falaj, then we will know elsewhere in the novel that her sister Asiyah pushed that little girl to the falaj.

Saada’s husband, the expatriate in the Emirates to work, as the rest of the men of that village, will return to support their daughter and stand next to his wife in their affliction in the loss of their little girl. But Saada will die, and the father will turn into a scandal because of his addiction to alcohol, and his psychological loss after all these misfortunes, so Asiyah takes his hand, closes the door of the house, and leaves the village for good, without anyone knowing their fate.

Asiya’s sudden absence will affect her breast-feeding sister, Laila, who will run away from her family’s house with a musician to marry him, and he will also abandon her later, to remain alone with their twins.

The novel suddenly enters the character of Harir, becoming the narrator in many places, and she continues to tell stories, especially her story with her family and her mother who suffers from breast cancer, and most importantly is telling Laila’s stories with the Iraqi refugee in Sweden, as well as about her ex-husband’s attempt to return as a friend, and his departure again, And about her failed relationship with her colleague, “The Elephant,” who is married to his cousin, and he cannot fail her. Her colleague, who “finally realized that she is not shivering at the end of the day because of the high cooling of the air-conditioner in the company, but because of its smell.”

year of the elephant

This mosaic division was also present in her famous novel “The Women of the Moon.” Al-Harithi seems to be faithful to this method, which indicates it, but this does not mean that he intends to slow down and divide, as this short novel (163 pages) appears very fast in some chapters. Many years and many stories pass in one clip. Within 5 years, Ghazala had given birth to twins, completed her general diploma, entered university, and in her last year at the Faculty of Commerce, the musician ran away from the marital home.

While she talks in an entire chapter (the Year of the Elephant) about the face of a fellow Laila. She slowly takes her time to talk about the face of that person who works with her at the same company. She talks, for example, about his shirt from the moment it was sewn and its buttons sewed by a female worker who, in return for finishing it, would get the price of her children’s dinner, to the journey that shirt took until he reached Oman, and to a particular store, to the moment when his very hand, the elephant’s hand, is extended, to choose He paid for this shirt, put it on, then got it dirty, washed, ironed, and returned to that body again.

This slowness seems to come from outside this novella, which flows with great temporal, spatial and narrative speed. She stared at his brows, with short, scattered hairs, I thought they resembled Chinese eyebrows, and I stared at his forehead, widening and wrinkling with the expression on his face as he spoke, and I thought his mind was somewhere behind this forehead and under that black hair, and I imagined his brain, zigzag, flowing There are thousands of thoughts that you don’t know, and thousands of feelings you don’t understand, he thinks and you can’t stare at his thinking.”

Give up

It’s as if everyone is abandoning Layla or Ghazala, even she seems to be abandoning herself, when she puts herself in relationships that seem to be failing from the start, is a constant self-torture for her sister Asiyah’s first abandonment.

Simple is the language of the novel “The Silk of the Gazelle”, and Al-Harthy succeeds in attracting the reader from the first scene in a cinematic way, and takes him into the interiors of the characters, their stories, their strangeness and their slowly dying ambitions.

“Ladies of the Moon” British Booker winner by Al-Harthy in English (communication sites)

At the same time, there are side stories that end in one or a few pages. It also constitutes a narrative game by Al-Harithi to influence the reader’s mind, as if she is telling these stories orally to the reader, trying to stay in the circle of her words and not feel bored or absent.

Including this miraculous tale: “Nasir was born at the end of the 19th century, his father had named him Sultan, and he remained in his early youth suffering fevers and ailments, until he came to his father and said: I am not a Sultan. The father was astonished, but the child was determined to his words and refused to respond to the call of those who call him with authority, despaired The father: What is your name then? The boy said: Nasser. My name is Nasser, and so it was, and he was cured of every disease.

A novel in which the author of “Naranja” novel recounts the lives of women from the depths of Oman, with great ease, despite their leaps between different tales, between different times, and between different places, using a somewhat diluted language of dialogues, and replacing it with internal dialogues of the characters. She succeeds in replacing the narrator of the tales every time, to present to the reader in addition to the story of Ghazala without having any hunter, tales of personalities who suffer from inside her, who seem larger than her, or incomprehensible to others, as well as from her families and her vast surroundings. A novel that the reader ends in one sitting, as if he heard it directly from the cafe storyteller.

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