Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan's Disaster Zone (Hardback)
  • Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan's Disaster Zone (Hardback)
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Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan's Disaster Zone (Hardback)

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Hardback 304 Pages / Published: 31/08/2017
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Winner of the Rathbones Folio Prize 2018

'The finest work of narrative non-fiction to be published this year.' - The Economist

On 11 March 2011, a massive earthquake sent a 120-foot-high tsunami smashing into the coast of north-east Japan. By the time the sea retreated, more than 18,000 people had been crushed, burned to death, or drowned.

It was Japan's greatest single loss of life since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. It set off a national crisis, and the meltdown of a nuclear power plant. And even after the immediate emergency had abated, the trauma of the disaster continued to express itself in bizarre and mysterious ways.

Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, lived through the earthquake in Tokyo, and spent six years reporting from the disaster zone. There he encountered stories of ghosts and hauntings.

He met a priest who performed exorcisms on people possessed by the spirits of the dead. And he found himself drawn back again and again to a village which had suffered the greatest loss of all, a community tormented by unbearable mysteries of its own.

What really happened to the local children as they waited in the school playground in the moments before the tsunami? Why did their teachers not evacuate them to safety?

And why was the unbearable truth being so stubbornly covered up?

Ghosts of the Tsunami is a classic of literary non-fiction, a heart-breaking and intimate account of an epic tragedy, told through the personal accounts of those who lived through it. It tells the story of how a nation faced a catastrophe, and the bleak struggle to find consolation in the ruins.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9781911214175
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 544 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 29 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'Every time I think of it, I'm filled with wonderment... This book is a future classic of disaster journalism, up there with John Hersey's Hiroshima.' - Rachel Cooke, Observer

'A stunning book from the man who has a strong claim to be the most compelling non-fiction writer in the world.' - Johann Hari

'A remarkable and deeply moving book - describing in plain and perfect prose the almost unimaginable devastation and tragedy of the Japanese tsunami.' - Henry Marsh

'Compassionate and piercing... giving it the character of a finely conceived crime fiction or a psychological drama... Tragic, engrossing.' - Eri Hotta, Guardian

'Parry, a journalist and long-time Tokyo resident, is able to draw something meaningful, even lovely, from the well of misery... Overall, the strength of the book lies in its stories, its observations and its language... The language is daring throughout.' - David Pilling, Financial Times

'Ghosts of the Tsunami is alert to the social and political ramifications and transfixed by the spectral quality of the post-disaster landscape... These twin streams - one universal, the other intensely particular - come together in the mystery that is at this book's core... Some of his most fascinating chapters take in the disaster's psychological aftermath... It is full of stories of human endeavor, of individual and collective triumph over well-nigh insuperable odds... As well as being full of ghosts, Lloyd Parry's A-grade reportage is also full of metaphors.' - D. J. Taylor, The Times

'Mr Lloyd Parry offers a voice to the grieving who, too often, found it hard to be heard. It is a thoughtful lesson to all societies whose first reaction in the face of adversity is to shut down inquiry and cover up the facts. You will not read a finer work of narrative non-fiction this year.' - Economist

'Ghosts of the Tsunami is enthralling and deeply moving, fully conveying and involving the reader in the sheer horror and tragedy of all that happened yet with such beauty, honesty and sincerity. Richard Lloyd Parry has returned the trust and done justice to the victims and their families a hundredfold' - David Peace

'When Lloyd Parry wrote Ghosts of the Tsunami, he was seeking "the gift of imagination...the paradoxical capacity to feel tragedy on the surface of the skin, in all its cruelty and dread, but also to understand it...with calm and penetration". It is to his great credit that, once he attained this gift, he so generously shared it with us here. ' - Yo Zushi, New Statesman

'The character sketches are colourful; the chapters end on cliffhangers. Lloyd Parry's prose is fast-flowing, occasionally stopped short by a blunt sentence... His treatment evokes John Hersey's Hiroshima, published a year after the dropping of the bomb... He has done a fine job of fashioning a focused story, and some powerful arguments, from the tsunami's wreckage. But his book gives vivid expression to what should be obvious: there is nothing neat or aesthetic about a natural disaster like this.' - Alex Dudok de Wit, Daily Telegraph 

'Extraordinary... Lloyd Parry writes movingly about the emotional chasm that now separates the parents who saved their children and those who assumed the authorities knew best... God isn't very popular in the West these days, so it's striking to read a book written in civilized, elegant prose that doesn't rip apart Buddhist priests and Christian pastors at the first mention.' - John Sweeney, Literary Review 

'Parry studs the story with gems of language and detail... The result is a spellbinding book that is well worth contemplating in an era marked by climate change and natural disaster.' - Kathleen Rooney. Chicago Tribune 

'Parry spoke to the parents and friends of the children and staff involved, and his relating of first-hand accounts of the tragedy is almost unbearable to read at times... Not an easy read, but a rewarding one all the same.' - Doug Johnstone, Big Issue 

'Ghosts of the Tsunami deals mainly with the aftermath of the tragedy - days, weeks and months in which parents continued doggedly looking in the mud for their children, knowing full well that there was no chance of finding them alive. Their testimonies are unbearably moving.' - Craig Brown,  Mail on Sunday 

'Powerful and absorbing.' -

'The finest work of narrative non-fiction to be published this year.' - The Economist

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Reviews

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“Extremely well written.”

The subject of this book is harrowing and tragic but what strikes me so much about the way the book is written is that the writer handles the subject and his interviewees with respect and a certain tenderness - never... More

Hardback edition
3rd October 2017
Helpful? Upvote 5

“Horrific and Amazing Story Which Should be Read.”

On the 11/3/11 disaster struck the North East coast of Japan, following a massive earthquake, when a 120 ft high tsunami crashed into land killing 18,500 people. This non-fiction account is the story of that tragedy... More

Paperback edition
20th August 2018
Helpful? Upvote 0

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