The Water Diviner

Zahran Alqasmi

In its Arabic meaning, a “narrator” is someone who – literally – “waters” people and satisfies their thirst, and The Water Diviner restores this original function to its narrator. Set in an Omani village, it tells the story of a water diviner employed by the villages to track springs of water hidden deep in the earth. Since birth, his life has had a profound connection with water: His mother drowned, and his father was buried when the roof of one of the water channels – or aflaj – collapsed on him. The diviner himself ends up imprisoned in a water channel, battling for his life. The novel’s subject matter is a new departure in the Arabic novel, steeped in the history of the aflaj, a farming system of garden irrigation which is inextricably linked to village life in Oman, and has become the inspiration of many stories and legends.   




2023 Shortlist