> Skip to content

Powerful second novel from the Whitbread-winning author of Patrick's Alphabet.

In a country recovering from a brutal and divisive civil war, a young boy, Jamie, is knocked off his bike and dies in a city street. His father agrees to allow one of Jamie's lungs to be removed and flown over the border for a transplant.
As the night unfolds and the plane travels across the war-ravaged country, we see the drama from three different perspectives: The father, grieving for the son he perhaps never knew well enough; the lung's recipient, an old man fighting for breath; and in the turbulent sky between them, the young pilot who is closest to Jamie - or at least to his breath, his spirit, his voice.


A bleakly powerful ending with a moving, finely contrived element of hope


Beautifully spare, poetic prose...haunting book


A thoughtful reminder of the wounds of conflict, and the depths of its scars... a clever, innovative, unusual book which is both timeless and timely


A well-paced narrative with carefully crafted twists...intensely visual descriptions... Inventive in its form and often profound in its poetry, Symmonds Roberts' gripping story is a meditation on the difficulty of forgiveness in wartime

Sunday Telegraph

Symmons Roberts is already a poet of note, and this...is discernibly a poet's book. Short and introspective, it stays in the mind and echoes

The Times

Magically spun out. An entrancing yet disturbing book

Sunday Express

An absorbing fable of the here-and-now


Read More

Formats & editions

  • EBook


    July 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    208 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia NZ
  • Paperback


    March 15, 2009


    208 pages

    RRP $26.99

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

Also by Michael Symmons Roberts