A BOOK published by an independent Scottish publisher, Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, has won the £50,000 Man Booker International Prize for 2019.

Alharthi is the first Gulf writer to win the award, for her book which is published by Sandstone Press, which is based in Dingwall.

The novel was translated by US academic Professor Marilyn Booth from the original Arabic.

Both writer and translator were praised for their work and the prize money has been divided between them.

Celestial Bodies follows the story of three sisters in Oman as the cultural landscape of the nation slowly evolves.

Historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes presented the prize at a ceremony at the Roundhouse in London.

She said of the winning book: “Its delicate artistry draws us into a richly imagined community – opening out to tackle profound questions of time and mortality and disturbing aspects of our shared history.

“The style is a metaphor for the subject, subtly resisting cliches of race, slavery and gender. The translation is precise and lyrical, weaving in the cadences of both poetry and everyday speech.

“Celestial Bodies evokes the forces that constrain us and those that set us free.”

Luke Ellis, chief executive of Man Group, added: “As one of the first literary awards to celebrate the work of international authors and, in recent years, to celebrate fiction in translation, the Man Booker International Prize plays an invaluable role in encouraging a diversity of voice in fiction worldwide.”

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On Twitter, Sandstone Press said: "We’re so proud to have brought this book to an English speaking audience, and we’re delighted that the judges see the same things in it that we do."

Sandstone Press was founded by Robert Davidson, and its editorial director is Moira Forsyth.

Mr Davidson, managing director, said this morning: "The Man Booker International Prize is a wonder!

"As translated fiction does, when it is fully achieved, it bridges the gaps between cultures and individuals and promotes empathy and understanding between peoples.

"With the current return and rise of fascism these qualities are of prime value in our country and the wider world today.

"All of us at Sandstone Press are incredibly proud to be publishers of Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi and her gifted translator, Marilyn Booth."

Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, said: "Loved this book. Congratulations to author, Jokha Alharthi and translator, Marilyn Booth - and, of course, to its Scottish publisher."