Synopses & Reviews
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.
“The most exceptional book about grief I’ve ever read....I didn’t feel as if I was going to cry while reading Wave. I felt as if my heart might stop...Deraniyagala 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, New York Times Book Review
“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.” Salon
"Stories of grief, like stories of love, are of permanent literary interest when done well....Greatness reverberates from [Deraniyagala's] simple and supple prose."
The New York Times
“Vivid....What emerges from this wizardry most clearly is, of course, Deraniyagala herself — carrying within her present life another gorgeously remembered one.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Unforgettable....It is a miracle Deraniyagala lived. The fact that she could write such a memoir, bringing those she loved to life so completely that they breathe on the page, is itself a miracle.” Vanity Fair
“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)
“[Deraniyagala’s family] spring from these pages with an exuberance and dimensionality that lifts Wave from memoir into some virtual realm of documentation.” The Boston Globe
“Deraniyagala has written a book teaming with beautiful ruminations on the bittersweetness of memory and the precariousness of life.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“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.” The Plain Dealer
One of The New York Times
's 10 Best Books of the Year, a Christian Science Monitor
Best Nonfiction Book, a Newsday
Top 10 Books pick, a People
magazine Top 10 pick, a Good Reads Best Book of the Year, and a Kirkus
Best Nonfiction Book
In 2004, at a beach resort on the coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala and her family — parents, husband, sons — were swept away by a tsunami. Only Sonali survived to tell their tale. This is her account of the nearly incomprehensible event and its aftermath.
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.