Presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival, Myriam J. A. Chancy discussed her new novel What Storm, What Thunder, a haunting story charting the inner lives of regular people affected by devastation of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Her work charts the tenacity of the human spirit in the face of trauma wrought by nature and man. Novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun, Patsy) joined Chancy in conversation.
What Storm, What Thunder
By Myriam J. A. Chancy
Published by Tin House Books
The earth had buckled and, in that movement, all that was not in its place fell upon the earth’s children, upon the blameless as well as the guilty, without discrimination.
At the end of a long, sweltering day, as markets and businesses begin to close for the evening, an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude shakes the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. Award-winning author Myriam J. A. Chancy masterfully charts the inner lives of the characters affected by the disaster—Richard, an expat and wealthy water-bottling executive with a secret daughter; the daughter, Anne, an architect who drafts affordable housing structures for a global NGO; a small-time drug trafficker, Leopold, who pines for a beautiful call girl; Sonia and her business partner, Dieudonné, who are followed by a man they believe is the vodou spirit of death; Didier, an emigrant musician who drives a taxi in Boston; Sara, a mother haunted by the ghosts of her children in an IDP camp; her husband, Olivier, an accountant forced to abandon the wife he loves; their son, Jonas, who haunts them both; and Ma Lou, the old woman selling produce in the market who remembers them all. Artfully weaving together these lives, witness is given to the desolation wreaked by nature and by man.
Brilliantly crafted, fiercely imagined, and deeply haunting, What Storm, What Thunder is a singular, stunning record, a reckoning of the heartbreaking trauma of disaster, and—at the same time—an unforgettable testimony to the tenacity of the human spirit.
Myriam J. A. Chancy
Myriam J. A. Chancy
Myriam J. A. Chancy is a Haitian-Canadian-American writer, the HBA Chair in the Humanities at Scripps College in Claremont, California, and a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Photo Credit: N. Affonso
Nicole Dennis-Benn is the author of the acclaimed novel, Patsy, (Norton/Liveright, June 2019), which Time magazine called “stunning,” and the debut novel, Here Comes the Sun (Norton/Liveright, July 2016). She is a Lambda Literary Award winner and a recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Grant. Time Out magazine has described Dennis-Benn as an immigrant putting her stamp on New York City and Vice named her among immigrant authors “who are making American Literature great again.”
Photo Credit: Jason Berger