Synopses & Reviews
A profoundly moving, piercingly frank memoir of grief — of learning to live with grief — that begins in Sri Lanka on December 26, 2004, when the author lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived.
The book opens and we are inside the wave: thirty feet high, moving at twenty-five mph, racing two miles inland. And from there into the depths of the author's despair: how to live now that her life has been undone? Sonali Deraniyagala tells her story without artifice or sentimentality, in the stark language of unfathomable sorrow, anger, and guilt: struggling through the first months following the tragedy — someone always at her side to prevent her from harming herself, her whole being furiously clenched against the reality she can't face; and then reluctantly emerging and, over the ensuing years, slowly allowing her memory to function again — taking 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 while learning the balance between the almost unbearable reminders of her loss and her fundamental need to keep her family, somehow, still with her.
“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)
“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
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.
About the Author
Sonali Deraniyagala teaches in the Department of Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is currently a visiting research scholar at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, New York, working on issues of economic development, including post-disaster recovery.