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Walking on the Ceiling

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  429 ratings  ·  83 reviews
A mesmerizing novel set in Paris and a changing Istanbul, about a young Turkish woman grappling with her past - her country’s and her own - and her complicated relationship with the famous British writer who longs for her memories.

After her mother’s death, Nunu moves from Istanbul to a small apartment in Paris. One day outside of a bookstore, she meets M., an older British
Hardcover, 210 pages
Published April 30th 2019 by Riverhead Books
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3.54  · 
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 ·  429 ratings  ·  83 reviews

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May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Aysegül Savas’ slim debut novel is strange and lovely, captivating yet elusive. Without a clearly defined linear plot, the novel is constructed on the narrator’s memories, presented in short chapters, often no more than a page or two, even a single sentence. The bulk of the novel alternates between Paris with its memories of a friendship with an unnamed British author and Istanbul with memories of an often puzzling and painful childhood. These memories can be sharp and clear or purposely evasive ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, 2019
Some days, it's difficult to believe that this friendship really existed – with its particular logic, its detachment from the world. What I remember has the texture of a dream, an invention, a strange and weightless suspension, like walking on the ceiling.

Walking on the Ceiling is a strange little novel to pigeonhole – it's so wispy and spare, yet sketches a life in a way that we all would recognise as faithful to the processes of memory, storytelling, and self-mythologising. With a main chara
Maddie C.
May 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Three and a half stars.

'Walking on the Ceiling' is a beautiful slim debut novel that unravels a writer of incredible maturity and establishes Aysegül Savas as a talent to watch. I got a sense of familiarity while reading this story, which reminded me of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend in voice and Lisa Halliday’s Asymmetry in some of its themes -- however, 'Walking on the Ceiling' is still its own work of art.

More a slice of life novel than a plot-driven one, we are introduced to Nurunisa o
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
At one point in this story Nunu is asked if she had dropped her invisible thread to M. Nunu is a young woman who has dropped this thread to several people from her past. She leaves London and her relationship with Luke behind when she learns her mother is ill. She returns to Istanbul to care for her until her death. With that she leaves a city she no longer recognizes and heads for Paris. Here she meets M an author. She knows M through his books and feels an affinity with him even before they me ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with the quiet intensity of Savas's narrator, Nunu. The story is framed by Nunu’s move from Istanbul to Paris, and the friendship she strikes up with an older British author as she skips out on university classes and wanders from café to café. It’s a kind of travel narrative, in the geographical shift between the two cities, in Nunu’s memories of a rapidly shifting and morphing Istanbul, and in her own processing of trauma, loss, and identity. What truly propels the narrative, how ...more
Anna Luce
★★✰✰✰ 2 stars

I don't mind plotless novels or meandering stories but there has to be something that holds my attention. Some of my favourite books feature characters with little to no backstory, and simply focus on a time of their life or certain feelings that they experience throughout the course of their life. What I am 'getting at' is that I started Walking on the Ceiling knowing that I wasn't going to get a straightforward story. However, even if I was prepared for a more 'metaphysical' type
Kristina Libby
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Carefully cultivated and simply explained — this sad, charming story is worth reading both to see Istanbul, and Paris but also to glimpse yourself.
May 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
I really cannot think of anything good to say about this one, except that it was not very long. It jumped all over the place, and we learned nothing about two magical cities (Paris and Istanbul) nor anything meaningful about Nunu's Turkish culture. The non-linear presentation made the book hard to follow as well. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I wouldn't be surprised to see this on many bookclublists or instagram accounts, as it's exactly the kind of fast read with a lot of underlying themes of grief and mother-daughter relationship and evocative settings (Istanbul/Paris), that would garner that sort of attention.
(I mean I was intrigued by the setting alone, which is why it ended up high priority on my wishlist.)

Somewhat detached but with some meaningful sentences popping up once in a while that pack a punch.
All in all it didn't have
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
I did nearly half of this on audio but despite the wonderful audio narration and the lovely prose, the novel’s meandering self-indulgence defeated me utterly.
James Beggarly
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book. A young woman jumps through time as she remembers her childhood in Istanbul, college in England and months she spent in Paris, striking up a friendship with a famous author that she calls M. Short chapters that cumulatively add up to so much. A wonderful first book.
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A steadily-stacked build into something that knocked me down for a bit
Cherise Wolas
This elegiac debut novel is elegant and mosaic-like, unfolding in 72 short chapters mostly two or three pages long. It's about time and truth, place, identity, and dislocation. The voice captures two time periods: as-it's-happening young womanhood in Paris and the considered view from the future of wiser age returned then to Istanbul. Nunu, the first-person narrator, seeking to escape the fraught relationship with her mother, enrolls in a literature course in Paris, and leaves Istanbul. A course ...more
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019_read
4.5 rounded up to 5. In this book, there is no great catastrophe or calamity or climax. There is simply a quiet, understated story of a young woman telling of her association with M, and grieving the loss of her mother. There's a bit more to it than that - more introspection - but you'll discover that for yourself when you read it. For me, this was a very good read.
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bittersweet and accurate telling of grief, especially when the narrator might not realize it.
Glenda Nelms
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Aysegul Savas' debut novel is captivating and reflective. Sections on the loss of Nunu's mom was profoundly deep and emotional. Nunu's friendship with M, an older British writer is strong and positive. We don't know everything about Nunu's life. The book is about loss, friendship, and an acceptance of one's self.
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I find the plot summary of a book like this to be unimportant in comparison to the writing style and eloquence that comes across. To me, this book is written the way one lives. We catch a glance at everyday moments of Nunu's life, and the passages are slightly fragmented chronologically the way one may think back on memories. The main character is so believable and dynamic and so is the character's description of M. The novel offers only a glimpse into the life of Nunu, as if we are a friend of ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a beautiful short novel. The words are crafted together so perfectly I was just in awe.
Leticia Vila-Sanjuán
beautifully written, even though i didn’t fall for M’s friendship
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A story of light and dark of telling and withholding of memory and an elusive truth.
This novel is ephemeral and lighter than air with an underlying sadness.

Nuri growing up in Istanbul with parents who are more apparitions than real live people moves at one time or another to London and Paris. Nuri has no clear understanding of who she is and looks to others to define her. The story in this work is almost secondary. It feels almost like a therapy session where Nuri goes through her memories and
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel. I don’t recommend it for any reader who wants action and plot. This is more an introspective look at the personas we project into the world and now our memories are formed and manipulated and told to create these personas. I love reflections of cities and the narrator creates personas of London, Paris, and Istanbul. Like the way she invents herself, she creates versions of these cities with some truths, some omissions, and some embellishments. She retreats further from people ...more
Regina Valentine
May 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book and about halfway through, I decided I didn't. Then as I kept reading, I found parts that I actually enjoyed. This book seems like something I would write as my first novel. It showed me that chapters can be short and don't have to be overwhelming. As far as the story, it was a little lackluster up until the ending chapters. I don't understand the main character. She is suffering from some type of loneliness or melancholy that I can't quite put my f ...more
Kathleen Gray
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This slim novel with short chapters is the story of Nunu, a young woman who has moved between Paris and Istanbul. Now in Istanbul, she recounts how she told her tales to M, a British writer she admires but her mother hated, as they walked around Paris. Is Nunu an unreliable narrator? To M perhaps but not to the reader because she acknowledges how she may have shapeshifted some things in the recounting. Thanks to edelweiss for the ARC. An interesting debut for fans of literary fiction.
May 19, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

"Stories have their own logic. For one thing, a story can only be told once it has an ending. For another, it builds, and then unravels. Each element of a story is essential; its time will come and it will ultimately mean something. In this way, stories are accountable, because they can look you in the eye."

This strange, little novel was a quick read and yet had some thoughtful moments and gems. If you like plot-driven stories, you will be disappointed as this is more of a moment in ti
Lori Eshleman
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This short novel reflects on cities, relationships, and writing, through a series of walks. The walks take place in two cities: Paris, where a young Turkish woman named Nunu walks and talks with an older man, M., a British writer whose books are set in Turkey; and Istanbul, where Nunu grew up taking walks with her mother, especially on Sundays, when they habitually went to lunch. Like her mother, it seems, Nunu “gets antsy if she stays in one place” (84). Other walks take place in more private s ...more
Shreya Vikram
I always find it hardest to review books that I've fallen in love with. There seems to be absolutely nothing to criticise, and far too much to praise. No review could do this book justice.

Filled with wistful, sparse prose and profound observations; Walking on the Ceiling is one of those stories that leave you with the deepest ache for something you cannot name. It is honest, startling so- to the point where there seems to be no distinction between the narrator of this story and the author of the
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, popsugar-19
This is my book for Popsugar prompt 26 - a book published in 2019
I experienced this as an audiobook and loved both the story and Mozhan Marnò's narration

This book tells the stories of Nunu, a Turkish woman in Paris after her mother's death, and her relationship with the author M. It also tells the story of Nunu's relationship with her mother and with Istanbul.
It is also about memory and relationships, stories and expectations. Nunu shared short pieces from her lives - her life in Istanbul with h
Todd Hogan
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever wanted to spend time walking with your favorite author? That's the premise of this lovely little book. A young Turkish woman visiting Paris to escape her mother and her changing Istanbul meets an elderly British writer who sometimes writes about Istanbul. He appreciates the anecdotes the young woman, named Nununisa, tells. In return, he helps her notice the world around her and recall memories from her childhood. The author, identified only as M., teaches writing to students and wo ...more
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
“I don’t know what it was, but I was testing something. The order of the world; it’s tipping point.”

“Luke would say that people live their whole lives telling stories, and by story he meant something like delusion. Everyone, he said, had a story of themselves. They told it again and again, at every chance they got.”

“I still remembered what it was like to live with a creative mind, I said, however it hovered above us.”

“There is a fear of time passing. And everywhere the signs of age are eradicat
Pauline Lemasson
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Stories have their own logic. For one thing, a story can only be told once it has an ending. For another, it builds, and then unravels. Each element of a story is essential; its time will come and it will ultimately mean something. In this way, stories are accountable, because they can look you in the eye."

I really fell for the quiet charm of this book, how the narrator, Nunu, weaves through the telling of many stories over time. One of these stories is a peculiar friendship she has with an old
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Ayşegül Savaş grew up in London, Copenhagen, and Istanbul. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Granta, among others. She lives in Paris.
“There are many ways of hurting without words. It is silence that shapes us.” 2 likes
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