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“An extraordinary achievement—original in voice, powerful in material, a book of brutal beauty and unflinching compassion. May it be noticed and read and praised and believed.” —Karen Joy Fowler, bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
The haunting story of a family of dreamers and tale-tellers looking for home in an unwelcoming world. This exquisite and unusual magic realist debut, told in intensely lyrical prose by an award winning author, traces one girl’s migration from war to peace, loss to loss, home to home.
Firuzeh and her brother Nour are children of fire, born in an Afghanistan fractured by war. When their parents, their Atay and Abay, decide to leave, they spin fairy tales of their destination, the mythical land and opportunities of Australia.
As the family journeys from Pakistan to Indonesia to Nauru, heading toward a hope of home, they must rely on fragile and temporary shelters, strangers both mercenary and kind, and friends who vanish as quickly as they’re found.
When they arrive in Australia, what seemed like a stable shore gives way to treacherous currents. Neighbors, classmates, and the government seek their own ends, indifferent to the family’s fate. For Firuzeh, her fantasy worlds provide some relief, but as her family and home splinter, she must surface from these imaginings and find a new way.
"On Fragile Waves is a masterful and poetic novel about finding hope and joy in the most dire circumstances." - Foreword Magazine, STARRED Review
“A heartbreaking celebration of the necessity of joy. A soul-searing tale of homecoming, home-becoming, home-conjuring. By holding up the jagged beauty of faith against despair, E. Lily Yu is the brilliant voice of conscience our age needs.” —Ken Liu, author of The Paper Menagerie and The Grace of Kings
“E. Lily Yu's finely honed prose and her child narrator allow for flashes of warmth and beauty between the shocks and sorrows, the terrors and humiliations.” —Margo Lanagan, author of Tender Morsels
“A stunning heartbreaker. The prose is as sharp and beautiful as the story it tells. Firuzeh's world is at once fresh and familiar, like all the best fairy tales, bringing into painful beautiful focus all the ways the world is horrible, and all the ways the world is magic.” —Sam J. Miller, Nebula-Award-winning author of Blackfish City and The Art of Starving
“Vivid, intense and heart-wrenching. Combining a coming-of-age tale with an unflinching meditation on exile and migration, On Fragile Waves poignantly illustrates the devastating impact of abstract policies on actual people.” —Victoria Law, co-author of Prison By Any Other Name
"An incredibly accomplished debut novel, a necessary and important tale of empathy and imagination and hope." —Matt Bell, author of Appleseed