Himlabrand Fire From the Sky

Ánte’s life has been steeped in Sámi tradition. It is indisputable to him that he, an only child, will continue his family’s business of reindeer keeping. But there is something else too, something tugging at him. His feelings for his best friend Erik have changed, grown into something bigger. What would people say if they knew? His parents, relatives, classmates? Or Erik, for that matter? What does he feel?

Fire From the Sky is a novel about heritage, family ties, and age-old commitments to the past – but it is also a story filled with expectations, warmth, and feelings that course through one’s body like electricity.


The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature (Honor Book) US 2024
Shortlisted for Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan’s Easy-to-Read Award Sweden 2023
Shortlisted for the QX Gala’s Novel of the Year Award Sweden 2022
Norrland’s Literature Prize (Best children’s and YA) Sweden 2022
Shortlisted for the Nils Holgersson Plaque Sweden 2022
Shortlisted for the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize The Nordic Countries 2022
Slangbellan (Best children’s and YA debut) Sweden 2021
Shortlisted for the August Prize (Best children’s and YA) Sweden 2021
Studieförbundet Vuxenskolan’s Author Prize Sweden 2021
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  • “Stark, atmospheric prose invokes an introspective look into individuality within community.”

    Michael L. Printz Award jury, US

  • Fire from the Sky is a superb account of one boy’s struggle to be himself. Åstot does an exemplary job invoking Sámi culture, and an especially good job of capturing Ante’s turbulent emotions, dramatically ratcheting up tension, as it is often agony for Ante to be around the friend he’s so in love with. Much of Ante’s experience is universal, and empathic readers will hope urgently for his happiness.”

    Booklist *Starred Review*, US

  • “Despite the looming shadow of canonical queer tragedies in pastoral settings, debut Sámi author Åstot delicately manages to simultaneously honor tradition and push against it. The result is a rare and triumphant look at what it means for queerness to stay put, with all the messiness and pain that entails. The time-stopping emphasis on gazing and longing results in romantic tension that nearly rivals period romances, yet the story is anchored in the present. Sámi words and phrases and rich descriptions make for an immersive read. Though Ánte’s queerness is isolated, an adult gay Sámi’s reappearance hints at queer community. A fresh voice and a setting that’s pure fire.”

    Kirkus *Starred Review*, US

  • “‘Are there any homosexual reindeer herders out there?’ With that question, the tone is already set on the first page of Fire From the Sky, an empathetic interpretation of love, with distress, doubt, and uncertainty, in which we can all recognize ourselves. /…/ This is a work deeply rooted in Sámi culture and which shows different aspects of it, including the trauma inherited from a long period of oppression. /…/ More than a heated love story, Moa Backe Åstot has given the work additional dimensions. She is herself a Sámi from a reindeer-owning family, so it’s no coincidence that the reader finds her descriptions both credible and authentic. Through her stories, she wants to offer new perspectives on both Sámi culture and Sámi identity. In this debut novel, she does so brilliantly.”

    Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize, Sweden

  • “In Moa Backe Åstot’s YA novel Fire From the Sky, sixteen-year-old Sámi Ánte is confronted with both historical and more recent oppression. Does he have to sacrifice a part of himself; leave reindeer herding and become a “sidewalk Sámi”? The epicenter of the story is a touching, sensually projected inner friction about how love between boys is possible. The ups and downs of falling in love merge with a vivid depiction of nature, where the cold and the snow meet pulsating, lingering hot love. Traces of old racial biology and oppression are swept away by a warm community within and between generations.”

    August Prize jury, Sweden

  • “A strong love story. /…/ The message rings from history to the future about the right to speak your own language, the right to belong and the right to love whoever you want. With colorful prose, Åstot describes the conflict between preserving and moving forward. In Fire From the Sky [Moa Backe Åstot] offers hope that both are possible.”

    Slangbellan jury, Sweden

  • “Moa Backe Åstot writes about Sámi identity and inherited traumas in a way that connects the individual person with history. [Backe Åstot] does not shy away from the difficult questions and in the young, homosexual Ánte, she creates a painful and believable portrayal of the difficulties of being oneself in a complex web of oppression and prejudice. Fire From the Sky is also a story about love, lust, and friendship that everyone who has ever been in love can relate to and it brings about hope for a changing society.”

    Norrland’s Literature Prize, Sweden

  • “Moa Backe Åstot’s groundbreaking debut Fire From the Sky is without a doubt one of this year’s best young adult books. /…/ Brilliant debut bursting with love. /…/ It brings us one of the warmest love stories I have read this year.”

    Dagens Nyheter, Sweden

  • “One of this year’s finest debuts.”

    Svenska Dagbladet, Sweden

  • “Can this really be a debut novel? /…/ Of course it is. It’s just so very rare to, in a debut, see language and portrayals that grab ahold of you as instantly as it does here; both elements are powerful, harrowing, and has great flow.”

    Göteborgs-Posten, Sweden

  • “The pages turn themselves. /…/ A fantastic debut.”

    Sydsvenskan, Sweden

  • “An unusually strong debut.”

    Expressen, Sweden

  • “One very rarely reads a novel that burns as brightly as this one does. Ánte’s longing is palpable, it rises from the pages with the force of restrained, forbidden desire. /…/ It shouldn’t be possible to depict this abundance of restrained pathos without it being too much, but Moa Backe Åstot makes it possible.”

    Västerbottens-Kuriren, Sweden

  • “A star has been born, a star of literature and it shines through the impenetrable, gray January sky. /…/ Moa Backe Åstot debuts in a magnificent way. /…/ [Fire From the Sky] bears witness of an author who has mastered the challenges of writing, using a living language and creating characters that are more than templates. /…/ A story that has us transfixed from beginning to end.”

    Norrländska Socialdemokraten, Sweden

  • “One of the biggest reading experiences of the year.”

    SVT Gokväll, Sweden

Photo: Carl-Johan Utsi Moa Backe Åstot
  • Young Adult
Reading material

Swedish edition

English translation

Rights sold

Faroe Islands, BFL

Italy, Bompiani

Norway, Trøndelag Fylkeskommune (South Sámi)

Spain, Levine Querido

Sweden, Rabén & Sjögren

US, Levine Querido (World English)

Film rights sold

Sweden, Cinenic Film

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