“Their promise, my children’s possibilities, still linger in our home”
The above quote is taken from Sonali Deraniyagala’s novel “Wave” which was listed as a New York Times Bestseller recently. The author is a survivor in the 2004 tsunami tragedy but has lost her family and parents in the tragic natural disaster. She has miraculously survived it and in her novel she pens down the agony clogging inside her heart of living the life of lost hopes and desires. The book is full of her sentiments, pain and lamentations. She weaves the story in a very intelligent manner providing her reader with excellent imagery of the 2004 disaster and her life after that.
The novel starts with the disaster itself. Therefore I would rather label the opening as an “abrupt” one which would quickly grasp the mind of the reader. The novelist has been on holiday in Yala with her husband, two children and her parents. The disaster strikes as soon as the novel begins and we see the characters running towards a jeep just as they see the murderous tsunami wave rising up. Then we are introduced to the tension of the moment as the jeep fills up with water and topples over. The wrier wakes up later after it has all been over to witness the chaos the tsunami has caused in the country and evidentially in her life also. She has lost the ones she loved. Then she is taken away to the hospital. The rest of the novel is about how she faced her life after the loss, how she tackled the daily activities without the ones she loved and how her life has taken different twists and turns. Praise ought to be given for her honesty in her writing. She relates every incident without any holes in them. Her memory flows nicely in the book. She is open about her feelings. “Wave” is a grief memoir and we see the novelist trying to train herself to get adjusted to live a new life. She goes through a period in which her suicidal motives develop one after another. She learns to live with sorrow.
The novel is not about the tsunami or about the thousands of lives we lost because of it. It is about one surviving woman who pushes herself towards solace after losing the life she had. Her writing is often poetic and engulfs the reader in a sea of traumatic happenings. Deraniyagala has the ability to keep her readers with her. We move on with her life as we move on with her descriptions.
One cannot read the book to find happy moments. If you are going to read this book you should be prepared to embark on a journey full of pain and agony. The novelist unfolds many realities in life. She sees how the life of the ones who are living moves on while the dead remains silent. She thinks about her two young boys, the things they lost in their childhood and how life would be if they lived. She unfolds the pain of a mother, a daughter and of a wife in one novel.
While reading this book it occurred to my mind that the grief felt by Sonali Deraniyagala is the same felt by all the people who lost their loved ones due to the 2004 tsunami. Each year as Sri Lankans on December the tragedy pops into our minds and we sigh in grief and frustration as each of us carry a memory of that traumatic disaster. The unfolding of pain and realizing the truth by the novelist reminded me of the writings of Emily Bronte; although the styles of writing may differ from each other the way they project their feelings take a similar outlook. Wave is the type of book which you can’t put down till you reach the ending. The language is simple and her poetic style of writing doesn’t bore the reader instead it attracts us. I would call this novel “a tough read”. I have read grief memoirs taking place mostly during the World Wars and have studied many poems dealing with personal losses but Deraniyagala’s novel differs from all of them. Most of the characters who have lost their families and loved ones owing to tragic circumstances try to abandon that life and try to achieve some sort of a regeneration in their lives. But Sonali doesn’t do that. Instead everything she does in her life takes her back in time. Every small thing triggers a memory in her mind. Her way of dealing with pain is different.
Wave would be the best book for you to read if you are the type of reader who likes page-turning, mind-twisting novels. And of course, it goes without saying, non of us can forget the 2004 tsunami and tragedy it left behind.
Purchase this book
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