Bitter Orange

by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth, is a beautiful novel about a young Omani woman trying to find herself in a new country while still bound to the culture and memories of her youth. Zuhour leaves Oman to study at a British university, just after her surrogate grandmother, Bint Aamir, passes away. Consumed by memories and grief, Zuhour becomes entangled in a romantic triangle between a young, glamorous Pakistani woman, Kuhl, and her husband, Imran, a medical student from a poor family whom Kuhl’s parents disapprove of. Zuhour is particularly drawn to the handsome Imran, in part because his past reminds her of the grandmother figure she misses. The book weaves between Zuhour’s struggles to establish a life for herself in Britain and the extraordinary life that Bint Aamir led in Oman, eventually forgoing the dreams of her youth to find contentment ending her days sipping coffee beneath the leaves of a bitter orange tree.