Excerpt from Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Mar 2013,
    240 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2014,
    240 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

I looked away from that upstairs bedroom. I stared at the empty space on the wall where the nameplate used to be. They must be still in that room, surely. It's impossible they are not.

I didn't go inside. Mary-Anne squeezed my hand as she started up the car to drive off. And I remembered how, on our last morning here, the day we left for Yala, I'd woken before the boys and packed their Christmas presents in two red bags. Vik had written his name on those bags with a black marker pen, one of those permanent ones.

I went back to the house at night because I could not bear to step inside in daylight. The tall metal gates shut, not partly open as they used to be. All the rooms in darkness, windows closed. The house was hushed, shuddering in disbelief. A solitary light burned on the balcony, another in the car porch. I glanced quickly at the lamp in the porch, some scraps of a nest, no birds. The large wooden front door rumbled back on its rollers. I kept my sandals on as I walked in, not kicking them off by the tall, bronze-framed mirror on the wall below the stairs, as I used to.

As I walked through those front doors, the huge silence of the house ripped through me. I had tried to come inside here on many nights before but hadn't made it past the gates. Damn you, I kicked those metal gates, all those gin and tonics I'd knocked back powering my legs. Damn this house. Damn everything.

The house I entered was transformed, empty and vast, bereft. Just a few pieces of furniture remained, repositioned, displaced. The floors now bare, no rugs to absorb my footsteps. The walls gleamed with new paint that concealed even the impressions left by the mirrors, the paintings, and old blue and white porcelain plates that had been taken down.

I didn't want this barrenness. I yearned for the house as it was, as we left it. I wanted to sit on every couch, on every chair they sat on, and maybe some warmth would seep into me. I wanted wardrobes full of their clothes, a mixed-up mound of the boys' underwear in ours, a neat stack of my father's white handkerchiefs in his. I wished I could pick up a book Vik had been reading from the table by our bed, and turn to the page he'd folded to mark where he had stopped. I wanted the green roll-on stick of mosquito repellant on that table, drying out because we had left the cap off. But none of this could be. Broken and bewildered, my brother had the house cleared and packed away, painted and polished, all in the first month or two after the wave. For him, that was the practical thing to do, to impose order on the unfathomable, perhaps. I had been collapsed on a bed in my aunt's house at the time and could not contemplate returning to my parents' house. I quaked at the very thought of it.

Now, in this stillness, sterile with the odor of varnish and paint, I hunted traces of us. A pencil stub with the end chewed off perhaps, a scrunchedup grocery bill, a hair floating across the floor, a squiggle made with a pen on a wall, a scrape of a fork on a table. But there was nothing. No dent, no chipped paint on the wooden banister along the stairs where a ball had been lobbed too hard. The drops of crimson nail polish on the white table in my parents' bedroom had vanished. The chocolate smears on the sofa bleached out. Surely this cannot be. There must be some atom of our life hidden here, lingering in this quiet somewhere.

And then I saw it. The mat. Just a small square black rubber mat with little round bristles, unremarkable. But I was transfixed. This was the mat Vik wiped his muddy feet on when he bounded in from the garden. The very same mat. It was inside the house now, tossed to the side by the stairs, not on the step leading out to the garden as it should be. No one had bothered to dispose of it, no one had bothered to clean it up. The gaps between the bristles were flecked with scraps of disintegrating dried grass, grains of sand, a morsel of dead beetle that the ants had tired of. Was that an imprint of Vikram's foot? Did that speck of dirt come off his heel? This mat and suddenly the house was not so lifeless, pulsing faintly, ever so slightly charged with their presence. I could almost hear them, turning the page of a book and shifting softly on a rattan armchair, crunching a roasted cashew nut and dropping another on the floor, slipping an ice cube into a glass and placing the tongs back on the table.

Excerpted from Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala. Copyright © 2013 by Sonali Deraniyagala. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...
  • Book Jacket: Complicit
    by Stephanie Kuehn
    When seventeen year-old Jamie Henry receives word that his older sister Cate, is being released from...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  59Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

O O T F P, Into T F

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.