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Add This - Wave

Written by Sonali DeraniyagalaAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Sonali Deraniyagala

  • Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • On Sale: March 5, 2013
  • Price: $24.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-307-96269-0 (0-307-96269-5)
about this book

On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived. In this brave and searingly frank memoir, she describes those first horrifying moments and her long journey since. She has written an engrossing, unsentimental, beautifully poised account: as she struggles through the first months following the tragedy, furiously clenched against a reality that she cannot face and cannot deny; and then, over the ensuing years, as she emerges reluctantly, slowly allowing her memory to take her back through the rich and joyous life she’s mourning, from her family’s home in London, to the birth of her children, to the year she met her English husband at Cambridge, to her childhood in Colombo; all the while learning the difficult balance between the almost unbearable reminders of her loss and the need to keep her family, somehow, still alive within her.

“Read it we must, for it contains solemn and essential truths. . . . Readers who are looking for a neat story of loss and redemption, a simple narrative arc, catharsis on the cheap, will find no such thing here: the particularity of Deraniyagala’s suffering, and the intensity with which she feels it, is immense. [But] she rescues her family from uncaring, careless fate. Losing them plunged her into darkness. Writing about what happened brings them back into the light.” —Teju Cole, New

“Like Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, Wave captures the elusive, shape-shifting nature of grief.” —Tom Beer, Newsday

“One of the saddest stories a human being could ever tell, told brilliantly, with devastating insight into the heart of love and death. . . . An eloquent monument to the deep human necessity of storytelling.” —John Barber, Globe & Mail (Canada)

“Bracing. . . . Deraniyagala reinhabits this tempestuous period with graphic immediacy. . . . Her interest [also lies] in leaving a palpable legacy of her lost boys. And this she accomplishes, triumphantly. Steve, Vikram, and Malli spring from these pages with an exuberance and dimensionality that lifts Wave from memoir into some virtual realm of documentation.” —Jan Stuart, Boston Globe

“The most exceptional book about grief I’ve ever read. In prose that’s immaculately unsentimental and raggedly intimate, Deraniyagala takes us deep into her unfathomable loss. . . . I didn’t feel as if I was going to cry while reading Wave. I felt as if my heart might stop. . . . That she allows us to experience [her ‘alertness to what will never be’] without smothering us in sorrow is the miracle of this beautiful book. I was thunderstruck by Deraniyagala’s loss, yes, but most of all by her ability to reveal the whole ‘outlandish truth’ of her grief. . . . The word ‘brave’ is used a lot to describe those who write about their deepest traumas—too often, I think—but it’s an apt description of Deraniyagala. She has fearlessly delivered on memoir’s greatest promise: to tell it like it is, no matter the cost. The result is an unforgettable book that isn’t only as unsparing as they come, but also defiantly flooded with light. . . . Extraordinary.” Cheryl Strayed, The New York Times Book Review

“Heart-stopping. . . . A stunning memoir of grief. . . . Wave contains some of the best, most affecting writing about love and family that I have ever read. . . . I hope it is of some microscopic comfort to the author that, by the end of it, the reader is in love with her children and husband, and with her. It is brutally unsentimental and completely raw: you periodically have to put it down and just breathe. It is also wholly sui generis. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.” —India Knight, Sunday Times (UK)

“Although for much of the book, we are privileged to be with her as she conjures and re-conjures her joyous family, what emerges from this wizardry most clearly is, of course, Deraniyagala herself–carrying within her present life another gorgeously remembered one.” —V. V. Ganeshananthan, San Francisco Chronicle

“It is a kind of wonder of memory . . . using recaptured fragments of objects and sensation to conjure magically the lives of those she loved and lost. . . . One of the things that comes home fully in reading the book is that all childhoods are about transience, every day, and all parenting is about mourning little bits of that passing.” —Tim Adams, Observer (UK)

“Affecting. . . . Deraniyagala’s account of her loss is remarkable because it illustrates the power of the human spirit to survive the unimaginable. Her fearless refusal to look away, even during the darkest moments of her grief, make it impossible to have anything other than admiration for the bravery and dignity she exhibits.” —Greg Klassen, Winnipeg Free Press (Canada)

“It’s almost inconceivable that a memoir of such exquisite beauty could arise from an event as tragically horrific as the Asian tsunami of 2004. But Sonali Deraniyagala has created exactly that. . . . Wave is somehow both jaggedly raw and beautifully crafted at the same time. Above all, it speaks to the power of the human spirit to survive, to love, to remember. It reminds us that these often mundane lives of ours and our families’ must be cherished, because we never know when an extraordinary event may come along to change it all.” —Marcia Kaye, Toronto Star (Canada)

“Radiant. . . . The extremity of Deraniyagala’s story seizes the attention, but it’s the beauty of how she expresses it that makes it indelible. . . . [She is] a writer of such extraordinary gifts. . . . Wave is a small, slender book, but it is enormous on the inside.” —Laura Miller, Salon

“A granular, tactile working through of grief, regret and survivor’s guilt. . . . A form of greatness reverberates from Deraniyagala’s simple and supple prose. . . . Her book is therapeutic because it isn’t therapeutic at all.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“It is courageous, truthful and, above all, generous. In the first place, it dares to tell an impossibly difficult story. . . . Yet Wave is not just an account of extremity. What amazed me most about the book is what good company it is. Deraniyagala is accepting and tender in her record of grief. . . . You read her story and there is really nothing more to fear. It is an honest eye in the storm and a curiously steadying read. . . . Wave is in fact full of persisting life.” —Sunila Galappatti, Globe & Mail (Canada)

“Immeasurably potent. . . . Relentless in its explication of grief, this massively courageous, tenaciously unsentimental chronicle of unthinkable loss and incremental recovery explodes—and then expands—our notion of what love really means.” —Pam Houston, More magazine

“An amazing, beautiful book.” —Joan Didion, author of The Year of Magical Thinking

Wave is a haunting chronicle of love and horrifying loss. The heartfelt writing manages to render the absence of the loved ones—the void, and the pain of it—in such a beautiful way that what was lost emerges as a new life form, one whose flesh and sinew are memory, sorrow, and undying love.” —Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

“An indelible and unique story of loss and resolution written with breathtaking refinement and courage. . . . In rinsed-clear language, Deraniyagala describes her ordeal, surreal rescue, and deep shock, attaining a Didionesque clarity and power. We hold tight to every exquisite sentence as, with astounding candor and precision, she tracks subsequent waves of grief. . . . But here, too, are sustaining tides of memories that enable her to vividly, even joyfully, portray her loved ones.” —Booklist

“Out of unimaginable loss comes an unimaginably powerful book. Wave is unflinching as it charts the depths of grief, but it's also, miraculously, a beautifully detailed meditation on the essence of happiness. I came away from this stunning book with a new appreciation of life’s daily gifts. I urge you to read Wave. You will not be the same person after you've finished.” —Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club

“The most powerful and haunting book I have read in years. . . . Sonali Deraniyagala has brought back to life in this stunning memoir all those she lost, so much so that we will never forget them or their lives.” —Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient

“A devastating but ultimately redemptive memoir. . . . The craft and control reflect an exceptional literary command. . . . Excellent. Reading Deraniyagala’s account proves almost as cathartic as writing it must have been.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Rarely are we given a story of such narrative force and poetic simplicity. . . . Being spared, Deraniyagala seems doomed to spare herself nothing. Wave is a beautiful offering to readers. Bravissima.” —Mary Karr, author of Lit

“In short, declarative, unbearable sentences, Deraniyagala takes us through her grief like a tour guide into a country no one chooses to visit. . . . Art as powerful as a planetary vibration.” —Joanna Connors, The Plain Dealer

“Deraniyagala has written a book teaming with beautiful ruminations on the bittersweetness of memory and the precariousness of life.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Beautiful and ravaging . . . faultless prose.”—Laura Wadley, The Daily Herald

“As beautifully written as it is raw, Sonali Deraniyagala’s Wave is an impossible book to forget because it exists on the razor’s edge between before and after.”—Miwa Messer, Everyday Ebook