Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami 1st Edition
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**Kansas City Star Best Books of the Year (2013)**
“Ehrlich offers always startling work that has deservedly won her a PEN New England’s Henry David Thoreau Prize for excellence in nature writing…expect first-rate observation offered with intimate insight.” –Library Journal
“Lyrical, meandering dispatches and eyewitness accounts from the devastation of the 2011 tsunami in Japan…Ehrlich renders the enormity of loss in a fashion comprehensible to her American readers…eloquent.” –Kirkus
“Gifted, adventurous, and extolled nature writer Ehrlich has abiding connections to Japan, so she returned there soon after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami…Ehrlich’s invaluable chronicle subtly raises questions about coastal disasters, global warming, and nuclear power as the beauty and precision of her prose and her profound and knowledgeable insights into nature’s might and matters spiritual and cultural evoke a deep state of awe and sympathy.”—Donna Seaman, Booklist
“Ms. Ehrlich’s book adds flesh and soul and spirit to the bare bones of news reporting, filling the void left by the media and reminding us that real people live behind the headlines.” –New York Journal of Books
“As Ehrlich concludes after her nine months there, ‘We can see the pain of loss and swing the other way, encountering the unexpected joy of survival.’ Her own account in this brief but unforgettable book is itself a heartrending and unexpected marvel.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Skilled reportage…As Ehrlich concludes, ‘We can see the pain of loss and swing the other way, encountering the unexpected joy of survival.’ Her own account, both harrowing and beautifully told, in this brief but unforgettable book is itself a heartrending and unexpected marvel.” —Huffington Post
“Heartbreaking…[Ehrlich’s] reverence for this Asian culture allows her to add personal perspective to the vivid reporting about people whose lives and world were so utterly changed…Accompanying Ehrlich on these difficult but sometimes joyous journeys is reading that’s often hard to bear, but too compelling to set aside.” —Seattle Times
“A haunting elegy and story of renewal in a world torn apart by disaster following the 2011 disasters in Japan…Erhlich writes beautifully, with a poet’s sensitivity towards not only what to write but also what to observe” —Newsweek Daily Beast
“A poetic, heartbreaking look at the immediate aftermath of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami – and all that followed…In sum, the book is a masterpiece of narrative reportage that balances Ehrlich’s own reaction with the voices of the victims.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“A riveting mosaic of reportage and reflection.” —Elle Magazine
“Brave…The language is beautiful and frail, but readers will not find a conventional ending. Instead, Facing the Wave ends with the troublesome realization that the same chaos could crash into one’s own life.” —Fredericksburg Freelance Star
“Gretel Ehrlich is a lyrical and sensitive writer who has written about nature and her manifold mysteries…Facing the Wave ends on a high and holy note of hope.” —Spirituality and Practice Magazine
“[Gretel Ehrlich's] frequent theme is the relationship of people to the environment and how often harsh and ever-changing natural conditions affect their lives. Here, her focus is aftermath, how the survivors of Japan's March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami continue on post cataclysm. Ehrlich collects their stories, tying them together thoughtfully, even musically, with poetry, science, and her own observations, to achieve a sort of universal empathy that comes from unimaginable circumstance.” —Santa Fe New Mexican
“Ehrlich blends lyrical prose and astute reportage in this portrait of Japan’s splintered Tohoku coast months after a devastating earthquake and tsunami.” —Kansas City Star, Best Books of 2013
- Publisher : Pantheon; 1st edition (February 12, 2013)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0307907317
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307907318
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.72 x 1.03 x 8.55 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,394,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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As with John Hersey's Hiroshima, the first-person accounts in Facing the Wave are interspersed with hard science to put things in perspective: "In the quake's 'seismic moment,' the total energy released was two hundred thousand times the energy at the earth's surface, equal to six hundred million times the energy of the bomb dropped at Hiroshima. In six shaking minutes the northeastern coast of Japan was torn off its roots with an undersea roar that could be heard on hydrophones in Oregon."
Ehrlich is familiar enough with Japanese culture, Buddhism and Shinto to eschew the usual "stoicism of the Japanese" approach for a more nuanced portrayal of both resiliency and heartbreak. The writing is powerful and assured like the non-fiction of Peter Matthiessen: "I thought it would be black, this tsunami-devastated coast, with a Hokusai wave frozen in place, always arriving, always threatening. But on this June day the Pacific Ocean is flat and blue, the ruined coast is gray dust thick with crematorium ash, and there is no wave."
In addition to the poetry that Ehrlich has chosen to grace many of the chapters, there are great lines throughout the prose: "Mist lolls between branches that huff green oxygen. Radioactive dew shines. My breath mixes with the gasp of trees."
With natural disasters these days, the idea is to get the camera crews on the ground as soon as possible. The image never dies - at least until it is eclipsed by the next big news event. But after reading Ehrlich's Facing the Wave, you realize that the two years between the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and this account have been well worth the wait. You've seen the video of the boat on top of the bridge. Now you can read the book and feel what it means.
I also appreciated learning a great deal more about everyday Japanese people.