Wave is a primer on desolation and remembrance. Sonali Deraniyagala's hypnotic and wrenching account of receiving and surviving a near-lethal blow to the spirit is also a beautiful memorial to the husband, sons, and parents the author lost to the December 26, 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka.
Deraniyagala, staying with her family in a seafront hotel, begins with the dreamlike appearance of the wave, "...not receding or dissolving...rushing past the conifers and coming closer to our room..." She calls to her husband, and they grab their boys and run. The family crowds into a jeep while Deraniyagala reassures herself that her parents, still inside the hotel, will be safe, even imagining her father, his pants rolled up, navigating the puddles:
"The water was rising now, filling the jeep...Steve and I lifted the boys as high as we could. Steve held Vik, I had Mal. Their faces above the water...
About the Author
Dr. Sonali Deraniyagala, born in Sri Lanka, is a professor of Economics at Columbia University in New York and at London University. Her husband, Steve Lissenburgh, 40 when he died in 2004, was a social scientist and economist who worked in London. Their sons, Vikram and Nikhil (Malli), were 7 and 5 when they perished. In their memory, the boys' school raised funds that were used to refurbish the Yala National Park Museum. The family was visiting Yala, in southern Sri Lanka, when the wave hit. The author also lost her parents, Gemini and Edward Deraniyagala, in the disaster.
The author discusses Wave in the video below:
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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