The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan (translated by Yuri Machkasov)

The Gray House


The Gray House is an astounding tale of how what others understand as liabilities can be leveraged into strengths.

Bound to wheelchairs and dependent on prosthetic limbs, the physically disabled students living in the House are overlooked by the Outsides. Not that it matters to anyone living in the House, a hulking old structure that its residents know is alive. From the corridors and crawl spaces to the classrooms and dorms, the House is full of tribes, tinctures, scared teachers, and laws—all seen and understood through a prismatic array of teenagers’ eyes.

But student deaths and mounting pressure from the Outsides put the time-defying order of the House in danger. As the tribe leaders struggle to maintain power, they defer to the awesome power of the House, attempting to make it through days and nights that pass in ways that clocks and watches cannot record.


When words have been spoken they always have a meaning, even if you didn’t mean it when you spoke them.

He opens his palm and all of himself is right there on it, and he just hands that to you. You can’t throw away this naked soul, pretending like you don’t understand what it is you’ve been offered and why. That’s where his power comes from, out of this devastating openness. I’ve never met anyone like that before.

My thoughts

It’s not often a book makes my jaw drop but this one did. I spent the first agonising quarter not having a clue what was happening, and yet I had a premonition that I was reading something special and completely unique.

Once I did begin to see patterns and connections that feeling intensified. And when I reached the end I felt a sense of loss because it was over.

This is a powerful book, with stories within stories, and characters who are intriguing and full of depth. I felt as though I lived in the House with them, and experienced life alongside them. The House is also a character in itself

It took the author 20 years to complete this masterpiece, refining and sharpening and honing, and it shows in the level of detail she brings to life. And then it took the translator two years to faithfully bring it to life in English and he has done an outstanding job.

I can say with almost absolute certainty that it’s going to be my top read for this year. I can honestly say I’ve never read a book like it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: