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Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunamiby Gretel Ehrlich
Synopses & Reviews
A passionate student of Japanese poetry, theater, and art for much of her life, Gretel Ehrlich felt compelled to return to the earthquake-and-tsunami-devastated Tohoku coast to bear witness, listen to survivors, and experience their terror and exhilaration in villages and towns where all shelter and hope seemed lost. In an eloquent narrative that blends strong reportage, poetic observation, and deeply felt reflection, she takes us into the upside-down world of northeastern Japan, where nothing is certain and where the boundaries between living and dying have been erased by water.
The stories of rice farmers, monks, and wanderers; of fishermen who drove their boats up the steep wall of the wave; and of an eighty-four-year-old geisha who survived the tsunami to hand down a song that only she still remembered are both harrowing and inspirational. Facing death, facing life, and coming to terms with impermanence are equally compelling in a landscape of surreal desolation, as the ghostly specter of Fukushima Daiichi, the nuclear power complex, spews radiation into the ocean and air. Facing the Wave is a testament to the buoyancy, spirit, humor, and strong-mindedness of those who must find their way in a suddenly shattered world.
"Ehrlich offers always startling work that has deservedly won her a PEN New England’s Henry David Thoreau Prize for excellence in nature writing...expect first-rate observation offered with intimate insight." Library Journal
From one of the preeminent and most admired observers of the natural world, a heartrending and inspirational portrait of Japan after the 2011 tsunami, when survivors found their world utterly transformed by loss, grief, destruction, and the urgent need to reconstruct their homes, their towns, and their lives.
A passionate student of Japanese poetry and art for much of her life, Gretel Ehrlich felt compelled to return to the earthquake- and tsunami-devastated Tohoku coast, to bear witness and listen to the survivors. In an eloquent narrative that blends reportage, poetic observation, and deeply felt reflection, she introduces us to fishermen, farmers, teachers, monks, outcasts, and an eighty-four-year-old geisha, who survived the wave to hand down a song that only she still remembered. Their harrowing and inspirational stories are set against a landscape both shattered and beautiful, with the ever-present specter of the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex that spews radiation into the fields and the fishing grounds. Facing the Wave is a testament to the resilience and humor of people who find strength in a suddenly shattered world.
About the Author
Gretel Ehrlich is the author of This Cold Heaven, The Future of Ice, and The Solace of Open Spaces, among other works of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. She lives in Stevensville, MD.
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