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Cover for The Sky above the Roof

The Sky above the Roof

A Novel

Nathacha Appanah, Geoffrey Strachan (Translated by)


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A propulsive, kaleidoscopic novel about a fractured family and the persistence of hope.

One night, seventeen-year-old Wolf steals his mother’s car and drives six hundred kilometers in search of his sister, who left home ten years ago. Unlicensed and on edge, he veers onto the wrong side of the road and causes an accident. He is arrested and incarcerated, forcing his mother and sister to reconnect and pick up the pieces in order to fight for his release.

What follows is a lyrical, precise, and unflinching account of the events that led to this moment, told through the alternating perspectives of Wolf’s mother, sister, and grandfather, as well as the doctor who was present at Wolf’s birth. With each chapter, new versions of the story and views of reality unfold, and they fit together like puzzle pieces: in an uncertain order at first, and then slowly falling neatly into place as the pages turn. As details about the characters’ lives and the disconnections in their relationships are revealed, the story becomes even more propulsive, even more compelling.

In this raw and poignant novel, Nathacha Appanah considers how trauma shapes generations and the wounds it leaves behind. The Sky above the Roof is both a portrait of a fractured family and a poetic exploration of the ways we break apart and rebuild.

Praise For The Sky above the Roof: A Novel

“A lyrical and richly human exploration of the disruptive turbulence engendered by family and identity.”Booklist

“Lyrical and striking. . . . [The Sky above the Roof is] a tender and beautiful portrayal of unarticulated pain.”—Publishers Weekly

“Taut and impressionistic.”—Meg Nola, Foreword Reviews

The Sky above the Roof is the story of two fearful children, Paloma and wolf, and the trouble girl who is their mother. All three are isolated, lonely within their family relations, all of them inadequately protected from life. It is a shimmering and uneasy novel, its apparent stillness always under the threat of some violence, of some darkness erupting. Appanah exposes disconnection, trauma, sadness, but works them delicately into something so very beautiful and strange.”—Daniel Hahn

Graywolf Press, 9781644452257, 144pp.

Publication Date: April 4, 2023

About the Author

NATHACHA APPANAH, a French-Mauritian of Indian origin, was born in Mauritius and worked there as a journalist before moving to France in 1998. The Last Brother, her fourth novel, won the Prix de la FNAC 2007 and the Grand Prix des Lecteurs de L'Express 2008.

Geoffrey Strachan is an award-winning translator.