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Ghosts of the Tsunami

Death and Life in Japan's Disaster Zone

Richard Lloyd Parry


Ghosts of the Tsunami Download image

ISBN10: 1250192811
ISBN13: 9781250192813

Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake sent a 120-foot-high tsunami smashing into the coast of northeast Japan. By the time the sea retreated, more than eighteen thousand 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 Fukushima’s nuclearpower plant. And even after the immediate emergency had abated, the trauma of the disaster continued to express itself in bizarre and mysterious ways.

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, and met a priest who exorcised the spirits of the dead. And he found himself drawn back again and again to a village that had suffered the greatest loss of all, a community tormented by unbearable mysteries of its own.

Ghosts of the Tsunami is an intimate and timeless account of an epic tragedy, told through the stories of those who lived through it. It tells of how a nation faced a catastrophe, and its struggle to find consolation in the ruins.


Praise for Ghosts of the Tsunami

"A lively and nuanced narrative by the British journalist Richard Lloyd Parry, the longtime and widely respected correspondent in Tokyo for the London Times. Though in part he presents vivid accounts of what was a very complex event, with this book he wisely stands back . . . to consider the essence of the story . . . Heartbreaking."—Simon Winchester, The New York Review of Books

"A wrenching chronicle of a disaster that, six years later, still seems incomprehensible . . . Any writer could compile a laundry list of the horrors that come in the wake of a disaster; Lloyd Parry's book is not that . . . Lloyd Parry writes about the survivors with sensitivity and a rare kind of empathy; he resists the urge to distance himself from the pain in an attempt at emotional self-preservation."—Michael Schaub,

"Remarkably written and reported . . . a spellbinding book that is well worth contemplating in an era marked by climate change and natural disaster."—Kathleen Rooney, The Chicago Tribune

"Vivid, suspenseful . . . [Lloyd Parry] re-creates the tragic events in a cinematic style reminiscent of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood . . . There's a harrowing intimacy here, as he brings us into families senseless with grief, the desire for a justice that eludes them . . . Lloyd Parry's elegant, clear-eyed prose allows him to circle ever closer to the heart of Okawa's mystery . . . Part detective story, part cultural history, part dirge, Ghosts of the Tsunami probes the scars of loss and the persistence of courage in the face of unspeakable disaster."—Hamilton Cain, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Pensive travels in the wake of one of the world's most devastating recent disasters, the Tohoku earthquake of 2011 . . . The author's narrative is appropriately haunted and haunting . . . A sobering and compelling narrative of calamity."—Kirkus Reviews

“The stories that Lloyd Parry gives voice to are not only deeply personal but . . . accompanied with essential historical and cultural context that enable the reader to understand the roles of death, grief, and responsibility in Japanese culture—and why some survivors may always remain haunted.”—Amanda Winterroth, Booklist (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


The first time I met her, in the big wooden house at the foot of the hills, Sayomi Shito recalled the night when her youngest daughter, Chisato, sat suddenly up in bed and cried out, “The school has gone.”


About the author

Richard Lloyd Parry

Richard Lloyd Parry is the Asia editor and Tokyo bureau chief of The Times (London) and the author of In the Time of Madness and People Who Eat Darkness.

Niall McDiarmid

Richard Lloyd Parry

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