Far from the Rooftop of the World

Travels among Tibetan Refugees on Four Continents

By Amy Yee

Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

280 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, bibl

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7551-0
    Published: October 2023
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7552-7
    Published: October 2023

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Awards & distinctions

Finalist, 2023 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards (Political and Social Sciences)

Finalist, 2023 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards (Travel)

In 2008, the Chinese government cracked down on protests throughout Tibet, and journalist Amy Yee found herself covering a press conference with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, his exile home in India. She never imagined a personal encounter with the spiritual leader would spark a global, fourteen-year journey to spotlight the stories of Tibetans in exile. As she documents how Tibetans live between worlds, Yee comes to know ordinary but extraordinary people like Topden, a monk and unlikely veterinary assistant; Norbu, a chef and political refugee; and Deckyi and Dhondup, a couple forced to leave their middle-class lives in Lhasa. Yee follows them to other parts of India and across oceans and four continents where they forge new lives while sustaining Tibetan identity and culture.

Weaving a sweeping travel narrative with intimate on-the-ground reportage, Far from the Rooftop of the World tells these stories and others against the backdrop of milestones and events in Tibet's recent history – many memorable, too many tragic. The resulting portrait illuminates the humanity, strength, and perseverance of a people whose homeland is in crisis.

About the Author

Amy Yee is an award-winning journalist, most recently with Bloomberg/CityLab, and a former Financial Times staff reporter in New York and Delhi correspondent covering India and South Asia. 

For more information about Amy Yee, visit the Author Page.


"Yee renders her subjects on the page with energetic prose that focuses foremost on their humanity, not the tragedies that have befallen them, individually and collectively . . . . a deeply researched and empathetic look at a people who remain largely unknown or misunderstood to American readers, akin to fellow journalist Barbara Demick’s excellent book, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. Readers who seek to understand the plight of our fellow humans in other parts of the world should hang on every word."—Hannah Bae, The Boston Globe

"Powerful . . . . Over the course of more than a decade, [Yee's] interactions and correspondences with her Tibetan contacts blossomed into a non-fiction narrative that is among the first of its kind . . . . Yee’s focus on authentic lived experiences—stories that could only be written with deep and trusted connections—establishes a model for responsible and effective refugee representation."—Joshua Peng, Wilson Center

""Through incredible personal narratives, Far from the Rooftop of the World paints a deep, nuanced picture of the Tibetan diaspora and the real human impact of China’s policy toward Tibet."—Foreword Reviews

"Engaging . . . . The Tibetan exiles she follows are resilient, resourceful and proud of their heritage. They are excellent ambassadors for a country that China insists has never existed and the very idea of which is treasonous: a free Tibet . . . . captivating."—The Economist

"[Yee] takes us with her into the homes, streets, schools, and communities of Tibetan refugees in India, intimately introducing us to unforgettable individuals and showing us their dreams and losses and the ordinary moments of their lives."—Lion's Roar

"[A comprehensive] look at look at the Tibetan refugee experience . . . . with atmospheric details, historical facts, and scenes from daily life in India, all of which Yee recounts in a [vulnerable and charming] narratorial voice."—Kirkus Reviews