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a novel by
Mark de Silva
"Mark de Silva’s Square Wave is the most extraordinary debut in fiction that I’ve encountered in many years. It’s by no means an easy read, but I found it worthwhile to trust this brilliant writer as he took me places I’ve never been. His writing is always beautiful, even when I had to suspend comprehension and travel beyond my comfort zone."
—Michael Silverblatt, 'Bookworm' on KCRW
Carl Stagg, a writer researching imperial power struggles in 17th century Sri Lanka, ekes out a living as a watchman in a factionalized America where confidence in democracy has eroded. Along his nightly patrol, Stagg finds a beaten prostitute, one in a series of monstrous attacks. Suspicious of his supervisor’s intentions, Stagg seeks the truth with a fellow part-time watchman, Ravan, who hails from a family developing storm-dispersal technologies jointly funded by the Indian and American governments.
The watchmen’s discoveries put a troubling complexion on Stagg’s research, giving it new shape and impetus, just as the weather modification project begins to appear less about dispersing storms than weaponizing them.
By gracefully weaving a study of the psychological effects of a militarized state upon its citizenry with topics as diverse as microtonal music and cloud physics, Square Wave signals the triumphant arrival of a young writer certain to be considered one of the most ambitious and intelligent of his generation.
Square Wave by Mark de Silva =
* In most cases, none of these writers endorse this book. Our math formulas are supposed to be amusing anecdotes, similar to shelf-talkers in bookstores that say "If you like X, you might enjoy Y," or "This Book is like Cormac McCarthy writing an episode of Saved by the Bell with a soundtrack by Philip Glass."
Scroll to bottom for Goodreads Reviews.
"De Silva emerges as a rare voice committed to mapping the many tones of a hostile world."
—n + 1
"Compelling and horrifying... the uneasy melding of the actual and the imagined gives the book its own peculiar rhythm."
—Dmitry Samarov, Chicago Tribune
"Square Wave is an experimental paean to process, to our oscillations between extremes, to the revolutions that come and go and the worlds they leave behind in the ping-ponging between the poles that lie at the hinterlands of human experience."
—Tyler Malone, Los Angeles Times
"An ambitious and wholly unique novel. The book feels hewn from the stuff of another literary age while at the same time feeling relevant in a way that will age gracefully. The multiple story lines are less intertwined than complementary, harmonious. They sometimes touch, but their direct connections are rarely the point... This is a writer doing what he pleases, and doing it well enough to deserve the permission. The expansive novels of Victor Hugo came to mind throughout my reading of this book... Square Wave is a stunning achievement."
—David Nilsen, Fourth & Sycamore
"I don't know of anything like [Square Wave]. [Mark de Silva is] doing something that I think few people have dared to do. The book fascinated me... it is a book that I found quite exciting, it's a book that I would recommend to people who love to read novels and see what a novel can do when it steps off the beaten track. [Square Wave is] an intelligent climate-thriller... possibly leading to a new way of thinking about the novel, or thinking about how the novel can be meaningful. It was thrilling. I think it's really an interesting book and I'll be reading it again and again."
—Michael Silverblatt, 'Bookworm' on KCRW
"A novel that looks our technocratic, militarized present in the face, Square Wave tells the story of a night watchman who discovers weaponized weather modification technologies. It sounds crazy, but in de Silva’s hands it all makes perfect (and terrifying) sense."
"Mark de Silva’s truly accomplished Square Wave defies all categories. Provocative, fascinating, and edifying, Square Wave is a fiercely intelligent and thrillingly inventive novel."
"Beautifully written... de Silva's novel is refreshing in its belief that disparate ideas can, in some sense, be united, that experimental music has something to say to experimental meteorlogy. De Silva's ambition in creating a work that aspires to the heights of the visionary is commendable in itself. History, violence, music, science, human interaction—Square Wave treats these not just as facts to be reported, but as dots to be connected."
"The descriptive writing and sense of place are excellent, with the historical passages about internecine conflict in Sri Lanka especially captivating. The novel’s ambitious breadth makes for a reading experience that is somewhat challenging but ultimately meaningful."
"[De Silva] explores history, chaotic weather, and life in an America where militarization has caused society to begin to curdle. With this wide-ranging novel, de Silva taps into a host of anxieties addressing the contemporary moment."
"Enticing and enthralling, [Square Wave] aims to hit all the literary neurons. This might be the closest we get to David Mitchell on LSD. Square Wave is the perfect concoction for the thirsty mind."
"A dystopian debut set in America with a leitmotif of imperial power struggles in Sri Lanka in the 17th century. Part mystery, part sci-fi thriller, the novel reportedly deals with “the psychological effects of a militarized state upon its citizenry”—highly topical for Americans today."
"The novel of ideas is alive and well in de Silva's high-minded debut, in which the pursuit of art, the exercise of power, and climate control are strangely entwined. Set against the backdrop of a crumbling America, this novel functions as a thriller where the confusions and obsessions of students are freighted with the dark reality they begin to uncover. De Silva isn’t shy about his intelligence, and he shouldn’t be; Square Wave is an intellectual tussle many readers will be happy to grapple with."
"Intriguing. A satisfying twist on more traditional dystopian fare... De Silva manages these varied plots skillfully."
"A brilliant debut, ambitious with its ideas, extraordinary in their syntheses and execution, and its stylish prose lit up everywhere by a piercing intelligence."
"Ideas run deep beneath the crackling surface of Square Wave. In this fascinating, provocative novel, Mark de Silva unearths the tensions of the past and follows them into a troubled future."
"Square Wave is, above all, just excellent. Mark de Silva’s prose is simultaneously uncompromising and unassailable. The resulting work is kinetic with an almost wistful erudition that relentlessly but organically plumbs the intersections between art, politics, and our baser human qualities. Ultimately, the novel's defiance of easy categorization or explication charges the story with a compelling mental resonance that somehow feels instructive."
—Sergio De La Pava
Mark de Silva holds degrees in philosophy from Brown (AB) and Cambridge (PhD). Having served for several years on the editorial staff of the New York Times's opinion pages, he now freelances for the paper's Sunday magazine. Square Wave is his first novel.
Enjoy a sneak peek of select pages from Square Wave! (Use the "full screen" option at bottom right to enlarge the pages):
LIST PRICE: $17.99
PRINT ISBN: 9781937512392
DIGITAL ISBN: 978-1-937512-38-5
RELEASE DATE: 2/9/2016
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"
Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Inside printed on Enviro 100% post-consumer EcoLogo certified paper, processed chlorine free and manufactured using biogas energy.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).