World exclusive novel preview comes to Wellington!


At one of the best international schools in Shanghai, author Julian Sedgwick wowed Wellington Upper Prep English classes this week with a glimpse of his new novel, Tsunami Girl.

Just when we feared that travel restrictions would extinguish any hope of an author visit this year, language and literature arose triumphant! Julian Sedgwick harnessed the power of technology to perform his reading to our eager pupils. Never one to allow COVID-19 to dampen his enthusiasm, he inspired and engaged his audience with fire juggling, sword swallowing, ghostly tales of Chinese lore and truly fascinating tales of his research into Shanghai and Japan. His virtual visit inspired some beautiful year 6 haiku poetry.

Years 7 and 8 were truly moved after hearing exerpts from Sedgwick's latest work. The text explores survival and the capacity for humankind to regroup and carry on after crisis. While the magnitude of the devastation caused by the Japanese tsunami and nuclear fallout in 2011 is harrowing, Julian Sedgwick’s thoughts on his research left our learners uplifted. The resilience and kindness shown by survivors of this crisis in Japan deeply resonates with a Wellingtonian audience. These core values are central to who we are as a learning community.

“Tsunami Girl” is still in the process of being typeset and illustrated so we were the first audience to hear a reading from this text. In addition to this exclusive preview, we were privileged to see the cover and pages from the manga element of the book. Pupils and teachers are keen to know if we can get an advance copy. Sadly, we will now have to wait patiently for the release in March 2021.

Fiona Stewart | Head of Prep English

A word from the author Julian Sedgwick:

My new novel is set during and after the 2011 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Three parts prose and one part manga comic, it tells the story of Yūki Hara Jones, a 15 year old girl growing up in the UK, desperate to spend as much time as possible with her grandfather – a once famous manga comic artist – who lives on the East Coast of Japan. When Yūki and her grandfather are caught up in the tsunami and the ensuing radiation disaster, she will find herself caught between worlds and having to find new courage and acts of imagination to live again…

I really wanted to share the very first public outings for Tsunami Gir with this Shanghai international school. I so enjoyed my (real physical!) visit last year and was so impressed by the lively and enquiring minds I met. It is helpful for me to try out different readings and ways of talking about the book and even more helpful to do that with a receptive audience.

I hope the students at this Shanghai international school can take away from the book and take the sense that all crises – whether large or small – can be made more manageable through the use of community spirit, determination, an open mind and, importantly, the creative imagination.

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