The Body in the Clouds
Allen & Unwin, September 2010
Washington Square Press, July 2017
What if you looked up at just the right moment and saw – out of the corner of your eye – something unexpected? What if it was something so marvellous, so extraordinary, that it transformed time and space forever?
The Body in the Clouds tells the story of one extraordinary moment – a man falling from the sky, and surviving – and of three men who see it, in different ways and different times, as they stand on the same piece of land. An astronomer in the late 1700s, a bridgeworker in the 1930s, an emigrated banker returning home in the early 21st century: all three are transformed by the one magical moment.
The Body in the Clouds explores the stories we tell to define who and where we are. It’s about the stories we’ll tell for the people we love. And it’s about our secret longing to be up in the air.
• Longlisted for the 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
• Shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first novel in the south-east Asia and Pacific Region
• Shortlisted for the UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing in the 2011 NSW Premier's Literary Awards
• Shortlisted for the Fiction category of the 2010 Western Australian Premier's Book Awards.
'With The Body in the Clouds, [Hay] makes a triumphant entry into fiction. Opening in 1930 with the plunge of a workman named Roy Kelly from the half-finished Sydney Harbour Bridge into the water below (he’s the only person to have survived the fall), the novel braids together stories of three men who witness the dive (or something like it) at different moments in time, all from the same vantage at Dawes Point. This startling conceit is sustained throughout a novel which ranges in time from the 1700s to the early Aughts, and from our first astronomer William Dawes to an expatriate financial worker returning to Sydney after years abroad. It is a gorgeous, Faberge egg of a book, enamelled with literary resonances and rhyming symbols, which we will still be reading decades from now.’
– The Weekend Australian
'[A] scintillating and accomplished debut novel … Ashley Hay’s structures and her characters are illuminated by an incandescent intelligence and a rare sensibility. A commanding debut novel indeed.'
– The Australian Book Review
'She illuminates the connections and the manner in which we choose and create stories to meet our own needs. It's a pleasure to read: superbly written and imaginatively conceived.'
– Adelaide Advertiser