As her mother slips into the fog of dementia, a philosopher grapples with the unbreakable links between our bodies and our sense of self.  
 

A diabetic woman awakens from a coma having forgotten the last ten years of her life. A Haitian immigrant has nightmares that begin bleeding into his waking hours. A retired teacher loses the use of her right hand due to pain of no known origin. 
 
Noga Arikha began studying these patients and their confounding symptoms in order to explore how our physical experiences inform our identities. Soon after she initiated her work, the question took on unexpected urgency, as Arikha’s own mother began to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease. 
 
Weaving together stories of her subjects’ troubles and her mother’s decline, Arikha searches for some meaning in the science she has set out to study. The result is an unforgettable journey across the ever-shifting boundaries between ourselves and each other. 

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Reader Reviews

Praise

"Noga Arikha is that rare author whose deep knowledge of philosophy, science, and the arts allows her to move deftly from the quandaries of medical diagnosis and the scientific ideas that inform them to the intimate narratives of people afflicted with illnesses that threaten the coherence of that mysterious thing we call “a self.” Astute, compassionate, and brilliant, The Ceiling Outside is finally an adventure story in the bewildering drama of being."—Siri Hustvedt, author of Memories of the Future
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