In the face of several grief manuals that have been published this year, Richard Lloyd Parry’s account of the 2011 Japanese tsunami and its aftermath arrives like a ghost at the feast, its mind set not on platitudes, but on the very hardest kind of truth-telling ... This is not, then, a book of easy consolation. It is, as it should be, painful to read. All the same, every time I think of it, I’m filled with wonderment (and, I suppose, professional envy). Lloyd Parry is such a good reporter: discreet yet unsentimental; ever-present, but able also swiftly to absent himself from the page. He never overwrites. His capacity for intimacy with relative strangers is a kind of gift ... It is hard to imagine a more insightful account of mass grief and its terrible processes. This book is a future classic of disaster journalism, up there with John Hersey’s Hiroshima.
...caught something far deeper than the financial fallout and collateral damage other journalists were covering ...in Ghosts of the Tsunami, Lloyd Parry has opened out his celebrated essay to offer an eerie, brushstroked evocation of a whole realm of remote villages struggling to find order in a world of absences ...less a continuous narrative than a collection of shards. Torn pictures from a family photo album, as they seem, his individual stories form a fractured portrait of a country we’re more accustomed to seeing as a polished whole ...strikingly vivid, even visceral writer, Lloyd Parry sweeps away distractions...to offer tightly focused and consuming human stories ...it’s in the realm of the ineffable that Lloyd Parry’s elliptical vignettes come to strongest life ...in the tsunami he has found a horrifying metaphor for those subliminal forces that swirl underneath the manicured surfaces of Japan.
...remarkably written and reported ... In a gripping fashion, Parry builds his account around solving the excruciating mystery that haunts the parents of those who were killed...In doing so, he produces a page-turner. In lesser hands, this tactic could seem ghoulish or exploitative — 'an effort to squeeze spooky entertainment out of the tragedy.' But in Parry’s, the material gets assembled into a moving study of character and culture, love and loss, grief and responsibility ... He constructs the book as an exquisite series of nesting boxes of sorrow and compassion ... Reminiscent of John Hersey’s classic Hiroshima, a devastatingly calm and matter-of-fact look at the dropping of the world’s first atomic bomb, Parry recounts this story with a necessary balance of detachment and investment. Significantly, unlike Hersey, Parry was in Japan during the disaster he’s describing, and so he includes the occasional first-person experience in his multilayered account. The result is a spellbinding book that is well worth contemplating in an era marked by climate change and natural disaster.