Memoir of Loss

“Gone.  The saddest word in the language.  In any language.” 
                      ― Mark Slouka, God's Fool
Not often do you come across a book that simultaneously tears you apart and makes you want to keep reading, but Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala does exactly that.  The author and her family were vacationing in her native Sri Lanka on December 26, 2004 when the tsunami hit.  She and her parents, her children and her husband were all swept away and she was the only one to survive.  This is a memoir of her attempt to cope with the terrible loss, to get through day by day, when she doesn’t think she can. 
The first months after the tsunami go by like a dream, or rather a nightmare.  She spends weeks “collapsed on a bed” in her aunt’s house, sometimes drinking to numb her mind, sometimes blaming herself for not doing more to save them (as if that were even possible).   At first she cannot go back to her family’s home in London and when she does, she is often plunged back into her unbearable loss:  “And as the wind gusted against those windows, I saw how, in an instant, I lost my shelter.  This truth had hardly escaped me until then, far from it, but the clarity of that moment was overwhelming.  And I am still shaking.”  Throughout the book, I am amazed at Deraniyagala’s hauntingly beautiful prose, at how she reaches into her pain and allows her writing become a lasting memorial to her husband and her two boys.

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