What Storm, What Thunder

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American Book Award Winner

Aspen Words Literary Prize Finalist

A NPR, Boston Globe, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and Library Journal Best Book of the Year

“Stunning.” —Margaret Atwood

At the end of a long, sweltering day, 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.

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.



  • A heartbreaking tale of regret and resilience, and a fiery rebuke of racism, violence and greed.


  • A stunning commentary on racism, sexual violence, capitalism and the resilience required to rebuild a life.

    —The Washington Post

  • A gorgeous, intimate voice. . . . A reminder of the extraordinary resilience, then as now, of the Haitian people.

    —People Magazine

  • Searing. . . . Chancy’s fictional portrait of the survivors and victims is both ode and elegy.

    —Oprah Daily

  • Not since W. G. Sebald has somebody succeeded in evoking such a rich
    sense of the history of disaster. . . . She has unimpeachable
    credibility—and a clear purpose: People do persist, not merely suffer.

    —NPR Books

  • Written by a Haitian Canadian American author, this novel paints
    Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and its aftermath through 10 points of view,
    from a wealthy water executive to an architect returning from Rwanda to
    deal with the earthquake’s aftermath.

    —The New York Times Book Review

  • Incredibly powerful.


  • Many of us are hungry for stories of survival and resilience in this precarious world where the for-grantedness of life is fractured. This book delivers.

    —The San Francisco Chronicle

  • An elegiac and moving portrait of Haitians as they experienced the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, this novel offers an ensemble of resilient, hopeful characters, haunted by those they mourn, but faithful for a better future.

    —The Boston Globe

  • This is fiction as an act of bearing witness. . . .Chancy’s lush
    prose engages shifting and intersecting points of view that reflect the
    contours of an island nation borne of anti-colonial rebellion.


  • Unmissable.

    —Harper's Bazaar

  • Chancy promises to illuminate the lives of people who in America are often fleeting visions on 24-hour news channels, noticed only when disaster happens.

    —The Chicago Tribune

  • Compelling. . . . Chancy
    offers her readers the rare opportunity to view the earthquake’s
    aftermath from multiple angles, with every shadow of doubt, every
    glimmer of hope, illuminating the ever-expanding history of the
    catastrophe and its devastation.

    —BOMB Magazine

  • Unforgettable.

    —New York Public Library

  • Masterfully written and unforgettable.

    —Chicago Public Library

  • Enchanting in its complexity, inviting but also deeply haunting.

    —The Rumpus

  • Fascinating. . . . intimately written in such a way that you feel it.

    —NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour

  • Remarkable. . . . Every element of the writing and characterization delivers a poignant experience.


  • Devastating. . . . Extraordinary.


  • Heartbreaking and haunting, this exploration of life in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after it’s hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake is sure to stay with you.

    —Ms. Magazine

  • A really beautiful, incredibly powerful portrait of a community.


  • Powerful and compelling.

    —Largehearted Boy

  • This novel, narrated by a cast of courageous and compelling characters, resonates with hope and resilience.


  • Lending her voice to ten survivors whose lives were indelibly altered by the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Myriam J. A. Chancy’s sublime choral novel not only describes what it was like for her characters before, during, and after that heartrending day, she also powerfully guides us towards further reflection and healing.

    —Edwidge Danticat, author of Everything Inside

  • A beautiful, haunting chorus of voices. This is a heartbreaking book, a striking achievement.

    —Zinzi Clemmons, author of What We Lose

  • A gorgeous and compulsively readable page-turner in the most haunting and stunning prose. If you love the works of Jesmyn Ward, Edwidge Danticat, and J. M. Coetzee, this is the book for you! Absolutely breathtaking!

    —Angie Cruz, author of Dominicana

  • Myriam J. A. Chancy is a masterful writer. The book is devastating and tender, but it is not a spectacle of sadness—it is a show of humanity and care in the midst of great violence.

    —José Olivarez, author of Citizen Illegal

  • An affecting and immersive—an important—book.

    —Dan Vyleta, Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted author of The Crooked Maid, Smoke and Soot

  • One of the finest examples of someone writing from a place of deep love and deep grief simultaneously—the story itself is wondrous and very, very human.


  • Virtuosic.

    —The Globe and Mail

  • Riveting.

    —Haitian Times

  • Beautiful and breathtaking.

    —Asterix Journal

  • Weaves together stories that will both break your heart and highlight the resilience of survivors.

    —The Mary Sue

  • Deeply haunting.


  • Poignant.

    —Poets & Writers

  • Masterful.

    —Black Book Stacks

  • A must-read. . . . a singular story of strength, sorrow, heartbreak, and love.

    —Apartment Therapy

  • A plaintive and beautiful love song to Haiti.

    —New Books Network

  • What Storm, What Thunder is a beautiful book. . . . Myriam’s novel makes what was lost when the earth opened up so clear.

    —Read More Podcast

  • The voices are weaved together effortlessly, each more mesmerizing than the last.

    —Publishers Weekly

  • Extraordinary. . . . lyrical. . . . dazzling. . . . Each of the voices entrances, thanks to Chancy’s beautiful prose and rich themes. This is not to be missed.

    —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

  • Unforgettable. . . . a devastating, personal and vital account.

    —Kirkus, Starred Review

  • A soaring, heartbreaking symphony.


    —Library Journal, Starred Review