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Disaster Falls: A Family Story by [Gerson, Stephane]
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Disaster Falls: A Family Story Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Length: 274 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


"[Gerson] is adept at conveying himself as a character struggling with grief, plunging the reader into the intimate eddies of emotion... Piercing, precise, and graceful."

"What starts as a probing of the deepest personal wound opens up to a profound, universal exploration of our mortality.”

“This diamond-sharp book is both meticulous and breathtaking…While [Stéphane Gerson] takes us to the precipice of the fatality, it’s as if the accident itself is secondary to the larger story. This creates a narrative tension in the passage about the incident itself. Though we know the outcome, we hold our breath as he and Owen approach the falls in a raft: we hope that it will end differently...A beautiful book, even as it deals with unthinkable anguish.”

“Keenly observed and deeply felt, this book is not only a powerful reflection on grief and loss, but also an intimately textured history of fathers and sons. An unflinchingly honest, moving memoir of loss and recovery.”
(selected for the 10 of Our Favorite Debuts list)

"In this wrenching memoir, Gerson, a historian and professor at New York University, grapples with unthinkable loss.... [He] writes honestly of his grief and guilt with an analytic distance that doesn’t mask his suffering... [and] evocatively describes the process of a struggle that allows him to continue living."

Disaster Falls is a meditation on family tragedy, facing up to both the thing itself and its consequences, in language whose restraint paradoxically allows the reader access to great depths of emotion. An immensely powerful book.”

Disaster Falls is… about grief and what we learn from it, how we feel… [It] becomes something different from other memoirs, and in the end a truly great work of art and human understanding.”

“Stéphane Gerson's Disaster Falls is as deep and necessary and haunting as grief itself. I am a big fan of grief and someone who does not believe in the concept of ‘closure.’ I am even a bigger fan of people who wear their grief as a badge of how well they loved. Stéphane Gerson wears that badge, and without preaching he inspires the reader to do the same: to love fully even in the face of loss. This is a gorgeously written book that will stand the test of time.”
ELIZABETH LESSER, author of Broken Open and Marrow; cofounder of Omega Institute
“I resisted Disaster Falls—afraid to enter its world of very nearly unendurable pain—but once I began reading I was pinned to the spot. This is a spare, lucid, wholly unsentimental, tender, devastating and devastatingly beautiful book.”
DANI SHAPIRO, author of Slow Motion and Devotion

"Disaster Falls is a father’s grief-stricken book, a work of expiation, homage, and remembrance, and it moved me, as it will move many others, because it is authentic, resonant and true, deeply thoughtful, utterly real."
EDWARD HIRSCH, author of Gabriel: A Poem
“In 2002 I lost my five-year-old daughter Grace to a virulent form of strep. In the aftermath of that enormous loss, I sought books that talked about the grief parents feel when their child dies. Not just grief, but anger and guilt and love and mysticism and yes, even hope. Stéphane Gerson has written such a book. Disaster Falls is brutally honest and unflappable, brave and vulnerable. Read it.” 
ANN HOOD, author of Comfort: A Journey Through Grief and The Knitting Circle
“One of the bravest and most breathtakingly honest books I have ever read, Disaster Falls is at once a rigorous exploration of language's power to limn a human life and an incandescent portrait of a family reconfigured by tragedy. Haunting, stark, unforgettable.”
PRISCILLA GILMAN, author of The Anti-Romantic Child: A Memoir of Unexpected Joy
“Out of the unimaginable loss of a child comes this stunning memoir. Disaster Falls leaps beyond death, avoiding the maudlin by turning toward connection. Stéphane Gerson meditates on how to raise children to be confident, life-living risk takers in spite of danger, and shares a generous portrait of a marriage in which husband and wife give each other space in grief and love. An astonishing book.”
CHRISTA PARRAVANI, author of Her: A Memoir

Disaster Falls is prismatic, fractal—it proceeds like an existential detective novel, beginning with a big bang of grief, after which the author begins to assemble associations, resonances, and clues, each a point of light guiding him and his family from death to life. The book's suspense emanates from watching the author piece meaning back together, creating amidst darkness constellations entirely new.”
THOMAS BELLER, author of J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist

About the Author

Stéphane Gerson is a cultural historian and a professor of French studies at New York University. He has won several awards, including the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History and the Laurence Wylie Prize in French Cultural Studies. He lives in Manhattan and Woodstock, New York, with his family. Visit his website at

Product details

  • File Size: 2794 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (January 24, 2017)
  • Publication Date: January 24, 2017
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01F0ZK734
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,273 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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