Menaka Raman-Wilms' novel, The Rooftop Garden, has been longlisted for the 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
“The Rooftop Garden adroitly weaves the themes of friendship, responsibility, and climate change into an unlikely thriller…an original, complex, and beautifully woven story.” –New York Journal of Books
The Rooftop Garden is a novel about Nabila, a researcher who studies seaweed in warming oceans, and her childhood friend Matthew, whose radicalization by an anti-women hate group is unknown to Nabila. Matthew has disappeared from his Toronto home, and Nabila travels to Berlin to find him and try to bring him back.
The story is interspersed with scenes from their childhood, when Nabila, obsessed with how the climate crisis will cause oceans to rise, created an elaborate imaginary world where much of the land has flooded. She and Matthew would play their game on her rooftop garden, the only oasis in an abandoned city being claimed by water.
Menaka Raman-Wilms is a writer and journalist based in Toronto. She hosts The Decibel, the daily news podcast from The Globe and Mail. Before joining The Globe, Menaka was an associate producer at CBC Radio, a web writer at CBC Ottawa, and a CBC News Joan Donaldson Scholar. The Rooftop Garden, her debut novel about climate change, extremism and friendship, was partly inspired by her experiences as a journalist and her time in Germany, where she gained a deeper understanding of European politics and social issues.
In a review published in the Globe and Mail, Sarah Laing writes, “[Raman-Wilms’] prose…is pleasingly fluent and clear, and her deep knowledge of what’s going on in the world – the looming threat of climate change, the rise of extremist misogynist groups, the pervading sense of hopelessness that can drive us in all sorts of directions – makes this novel feel like a timely one. It’s a beautifully painted portrait of a single relationship, yes, but it also feels like a wake-up call, a reminder of how easily and insidiously evil can grow and take root.”