'Earth Weeps, Saturn Laughs' by Abdulaziz Al Farsi (translated by Nancy Robertson)
Came upon this reading suggestion thanks to Arablit.org and very glad I did. Hadn't read any Omani literature and abudulaziz Al Farsi's splendid book has certainly whetted my appetite for more.
This 229-page novel opens with the return of Khalid Bakhit, a government employee, to his hometown in Oman after a time away in the big city, and concludes with his return to the city with a new maturity born of a series of wrenching encounters with reality.
Khalid's return home, sparked by his flight from a painful love affair, coincides with events that reveal the force of long-established traditions that have a stranglehold on the town: from racial prejudice, to religious bigotry, to ossified patterns of leadership. Khalid's awakening and transformation are catalysed by his encounters with a certain "Saturnine poet" who, in the course of chasing after an elusive ode, has stumbled upon this unnamed village.
For a period of time "the Saturnine" becomes Khalid's closest companion: listening to his woes, helping him see himself with new eyes, and imparting to him a wisdom from a world beyond untainted by human smallness.
The complete history of the village members unfolds as each chapter is narrated from the perspective of one of its inhabitants. It is a village that has had to weather several storms bringing its members closer together. Yet, the village's latest turmoils are unprecedented and are proving beyond anyone's control. The community is being torn between those who want change and those who will do everything in their power to keep things they way they are meant to be.
As I'm on holiday, do read a thorough review HERE.
'Omani Folk Tales' by Hatim Al Taie and Joan Pickersgill
Found this yesterday during my stay at one of Oman's most gorgeous resorts 'The Chedi'. It's published by Al Roya Press & Publishing House and is a collection of folktales by Hatim al Taie and Joan Pickersgill and sold at the Chedi's 'Boutique'.
The storytellers are from different regions in Oman and as the authors state in their introduction, 'although Oman's oral tradition is very rich and varied, unfortunately most of it is undocumented and therefore threatened by the progress of modern culture ... this collection was mainly collected while we were working on Oman: Comprehensive Guide' in the mid 1990s as we travelled all over the country to record places steeped in history and legend'.
The selected stories fall into three main categories: the first are related to the supernatural, jinn and magic; the second reflect the power of the Sufi or Ulama, whose devotion to God has given them extra powers and respect; and the third are historical and involve Omani heroes who, because of their amazing courage, have been immortalised.