Far from the Rooftop of the World

Travels among Tibetan Refugees on Four Continents

By Amy Yee

Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Far from the Rooftop of the World

280 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, bibl

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7551-0
    Published: October 2023

Paperback Available October 2023, but pre-order your copy today!

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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.


"[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

"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

"Beautifully observed, with full-bodied, engaging characters who are never lost in the shadow of Chinese politics. Amy Yee has done a wonderful job of capturing the details, dramas, and dignities of Tibetan life in exile."—Peter Hessler, author of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze and Oracle Bones: A Journey through Time in China, finalist for the National Book Award

"In too many narratives, Tibetans are merely faceless victims. But in this perceptive and empathic work, Amy Yee shows we are people full of life, dreams, nuances, and resilience."—Tencho Gyatso, president of the International Campaign for Tibet

"This extraordinary, compassionate work takes us into both physical and spiritual worlds. When we finish the book, we are left changed. We can see who we were when we began it and who we are now."—Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life, winner of the International Dublin Literary Award

"Through a kaleidoscopic portrait, Amy Yee describes displaced Tibetans intimately and truthfully: people who are warm, open, large-hearted, peaceful. Their displacement cannot crush their humanity. Instead, their losses have strengthened them."—Ha Jin, author of Waiting, winner of the National Book Award