A novel by Mark de Silva
American democracy is on its knees. The upcoming election could well be the last and the nation is braced for internal conflict. Meanwhile, on urban patrol, a nightwatchman discovers the latest in a series of prostitutes beaten and left for dead by a mysterious assailant. Meanwhile, his research into his family’s past leads him to Sri Lanka under colonialism, with all its echoes of factional divisions and authoritarian rule. Meanwhile, his colleague is implicated in a scheme to reverse-engineer storm dispersal technology and weaponise the weather.
Meanwhile, meanwhile, meanwhile: from its basis in a dystopian future and its focus on one man in pursuit of another, Square Wave expands its scope and expands again — into history, musicology, geopolitics — to observe the varieties of decay that emerge from the militarisation of the human mind. The result is a novel that KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt calls “the most extraordinary debut in fiction that I’ve encountered in many years… even when I had to suspend comprehension and travel beyond my comfort zone.”
Mark de Silva is the author of two novels, Square Wave and The Logos, as well as the essay collection Points of Attack.
Listen to Mark de Silva interviewed on the Beyond the Zero podcast.
Praise for Square Wave
Mark de Silva’s Square Wave is the most extraordinary début 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. … Square Wave shows what a novel can do when it goes off the beaten track.Michael Silverblatt, KCRW’s Bookworm
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, author of A Naked Singularity and Lost Empress
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.Publishers Weekly
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, The 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
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 meteorology. 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.Slant Magazine
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.Atticus Review
A brilliant debut, ambitious with its ideas, extraordinary in their syntheses and execution, and its stylish prose lit up everywhere by a piercing intelligence.Neel Mukherjee