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Imprint: Magpie

Subject: General Fiction

On the Rooftop

A Reese's Book Club Pick

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton


‘An utterly original and brilliant story’ Reese Witherspoon


Longlisted for the 2023 Joyce Carol Oates Prize


Ruth, Esther and Chloe have been singing in harmony since before they could speak. Together they are The Salvations. Driven to success by their formidably ambitious mother, Vivian, they’re soon the hottest jazz band in San Francisco.


When the girls receive a once-in-a-lifetime offer from a renowned talent manager, Vivian knows this is the big break she has been praying for. She can see a different future for her girls, one that is a far cry from her childhood in racially segregated Louisiana.


But somewhere between the grind of endless rehearsals on the rooftop and the glamour of weekly gigs at the Champagne Supper Club, the girls grow up and start to imagine a life beyond their mother’s reach. As Vivian’s hold on her family begins to weaken, she must confront changes in The Salvations, in the San Francisco neighbourhood she has made her home, and even in her own family.

  • Publication date: October 6, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780861546275
  • RRP: £16.99
  • Pages: 304
  • Publication date: October 6, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780861546282
  • RRP: £6.99
  • Pages: 304


'Beautiful, moving, and truly unforgettable!'

Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

'It will get inside your heart, break it wide open and stay there for a long time.'

Good Housekeeping

'Animated with the hopes and desires of three formidable sisters and their fierce mother, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton takes us through the complications of familial love, the strong ties that bind a community, the keening for independence and freedom at the heart of it all, and of course the rhythms of soul and jazz. The exceptional storytelling hooks you in and before you know it, you're rooting for every single one of her characters. Their dreams become yours.'

Melody Razak, author of Moth

'The kind of expansive, lush novel that envelops with charm while provoking with its fierce intelligence.'

Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of Libertie

'In all of her work, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton invites us into the most intimate spaces of remarkable families during remarkable times. In this stellar novel, she takes us deeply into the dynamics of mothers and daughters, their individual—and collective—dreams and struggles. The harmonies of The Salvations are the literal soul music of this neighborhood in San Francisco during the turbulent '50s and I will never look up at another rooftop again, without imagining three sisters reaching for their stars.'

Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels

'Richly observed and beautifully written, On the Rooftop weaves the lives of its characters together into a story bursting with music and feeling. Margaret Wilkerson Sexton writes with power and nuance about matters of the spirit and the flesh. A moving, uplifting novel about art and ambition and faith and love.'

Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown

'A creative exploration of family, community and resilience... On the Rooftop is a quiet page turner that can serve as a beacon of hope in any trying time.'

BookPage (starred review)

'Narrating duties rotate among Vivian and each of her daughters, illuminating the stressors and conflicting values that the women must navigate as they try to find themselves within their singing family, their Black community, and their unjust country. Once again, Sexton delivers.'


'A powerful drama set during a pivotal moment in US history.'

Real Simple

'A showstopper of a third novel… On the Rooftop is a powerhouse novel that reflects both how high we can fly and how quickly we can be knocked down.'

San Francisco Chronicle

'In On the Rooftop, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s mellifluous third novel, readers have a front-row seat to a timeless drama about a mother with dreams that don’t quite line up with her daughters’ realities... Riveting.'

New York Times

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton studied creative writing at Dartmouth College and law at UC Berkeley. Her most recent novel, The Revisioners, won a 2020 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work and was a national bestseller as well as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her debut novel, A Kind of Freedom, was long-listed for the National Book Award. She lives in Oakland with her family.

Author page

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