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by Michael Larson


"Michael Larson has made an important contribution to the English-speaking world's understanding of the events in Japan during and after March 11, 2011. Larson's book captures the complexity of what happened: a triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident that took the lives of almost 20,000 people, and uprooted hundreds of thousands more. Larson gives a textured and compassionate account of those events via the accounts of people who lived through them. He shows a journalist's ability to listen, and a novelist's flair for bringing those stories to life. He also shows an intense concern for the fate of Tohoku, having spent much time himself up in the disaster zone, which shows in his feel for places and the people. The personal connection makes the story all the more compelling, as the disaster has clearly changed Larson's life as well. Well done!"--Martin Fackler, former Tokyo bureau chief for The New York Times


When the Waves Came follows the lives of a hairdresser, a café owner, a cattle rancher, and a nuclear-energy worker from the moment the 2011 tsunami hit Japan's Tohoku region through the subsequent years of recovery, grief, and frustration. Larson chronicles how the destruction of the tsunami and the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident reshaped lives up and down the coast of northeastern Japan, altering the trajectory of an entire nation in the process. The book narrates the survivors’ attempts to recover what they had lost in spite of the Japanese governments' haphazard response.

When the Waves Came

  • M.W. LARSON earned his MFA at The Ohio State University and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A former Fulbright scholar he has published fiction and nonfiction in Colorado Review, The Iowa Review, Ninth Letter, and Witness. He lives with his wife in Tokyo and teaches English and writing at the University of Tsukuba.

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