March 11 this year will mark the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Thus far, English-language literature has been slow to tackle the disaster. “Up From the Sea” by Tokyo-based Californian writer Leza Lowitz is, therefore, a welcome arrival.
Kai is a junior high school student in Japan’s Tohoku region, awkward around girls, bullied for being a hafu (half-Japanese) but with a passionate love of soccer. The story opens with the earthquake and the following tsunami. The children evacuate but it’s too late; the wave comes and Kai loses everything.