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The Sky Above the Roof

On sale

20th January 2022

Price: £10

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Selected: ebook / ISBN-13: 9781529408560

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Once upon a time there was a boy whose mother called him “Wolf”

She thought this name would bring him strength, luck, natural authority, but how could she know that this boy would grow up to be the gentlest and strangest of sons and that he would end up captured like a wild animal

There he is now, in the back of a police van, as we turn the page

It all begins with a crash.

One night, seventeen-year-old Wolf steals his mother’s car and drives six hundred kilometres 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, imprisoned, and leaves his mother and sister to pick up the pieces.

What follows is an unflinching account of the events that lead to this moment, told through the alternating perspectives of Wolf’s mother, sister and various other voices. In this raw and poignant novel, Nathacha Appanah reveals 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

Translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan


Mohammed Aïssaoui, Le Figaro Littéraire
With this magnificent text Nathacha Appanah has never been so close to the poetry that she carries in her work. Great, great literature.
Flavie Philipon, Elle
The author of The Tropic of Violence creates an unexpected opening in the gray sky of everyday life. It unveils a world in which the most vulnerable or the strongest among us can climb, sheltered from the blows of life: poetry. Breathtaking.
François Busnel, La Grande Librairie
It's beautiful, extraordinarily delicate
Alexandre Fillon, Les Échos Weekend
Shrouded in darkness and rare poetry, Nathacha Appanah's new novel is a haunting song that leaves a lasting mark.
Valérie Marin La Meslée, Le Point
There is tale in this novel, a sweetness about pain and perpetual marginality, from which emanates a dreamlike atmosphere.
Jean-Christophe Ploquin, La Croix
Nathacha Appanah's intimate and luminous writing questions the inevitability of the transmission of trauma from one generation to another.
Éric Libiot, L'Express
Nathacha Appanah does not judge; she looks, writes, describes, heals wounds, gently blows on scars. It is very sweet. Very painful. Very loving, too.
Daniel Hahn
A shimmering and uneasy novel . . . Appanah exposes disconnection, trauma, sadness, but works them delicately into something so very beautiful and strange
Appanah's writing is truly beautiful, shimmering in places, poetic in others
Lucy Popescu, Times Literary Supplement
Through lyrical prose, flawlessly translated by Geoffrey Strachan, Appanah unpeels the layers of the family's turmoil