The characters and descriptions are so vivid, complex and memorable that I almost expected the book itself to quake, crack open and spill forth its cacophony of voices. 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 ... A reader does not have to be familiar with Haiti to absorb the cultural themes and references in this novel. What better way to understand a culture than to listen closely to stories from people’s diverse perspectives and experiences? Chancy takes us there with her powerful writing ... In less skilled hands, a novel with multiple points of view can be frustrating, especially when we prefer one voice to another. In What Storm, What Thunder, I was immediately taken with each new voice. I delighted in that small but powerful thrill of recognition when a character reappeared in another person’s story, deepening both my understanding of them and the sense that we are all connected ... Chancy’s compassionate and harrowing novel reminds us we are all part of the collective.
... an accomplished novel of immense power and rare sensitivity that keeps us in its firm grip until the last page ... The book is a kind of choral piece composed of 10 distinct and compelling voices ... Each vividly imagined character, whether a survivor or a victim, conveys the enormity of the tragedy through their personal ordeals ... Chancy excels with her depictions of horror, adversity and desperation. One encounter is gut-wrenching. A five-page testimony by a young boy is tear-inducing. Readers who don't look away will be haunted by this important book for some time.
Whether they’re linked by blood, love, or necessity, the characters’ collective memories of the earthquake offer a comprehensive and compelling range of perspectives—the myriad points of view so far-reaching that they effectively urge the reader to consider not only the lives on the pages, but the innumerable tragic stories that exist outside of Chancy’s writing ... With the distance afforded by time, space, and fiction, Chancy’s prose takes up a similar process. By fitting together a variety of perspectives and fragments of different lives, Chancy creates a kaleidoscopic lens of stories that gazes upon a singular event ... 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.
... is as far as possible from a maudlin account of a terrible tragedy: It is a precise, albeit fictional, reconstruction of the many kinds of individuals and experiences during and after the tragedy; carving out the lives of those in Port-au-Prince markets or displaced-people (IDP) camps or in a cab in Boston with a razor-sharp palette knife ... Somehow — despite the stories of sexually exploited teenagers in IDP camps and the opportunistic monetization of water by a Haitian businessman — Chancy rarely tips into a state of utter hopelessness, nor does she strip away agency from even the most abject of people. She has unimpeachable credibility — and a clear purpose: People do persist, not merely suffer ... Chancy evokes for the reader a remarkably sober and intense proximity...Not since W. G. Sebald has somebody succeeded in evoking such a rich sense of the history of disaster.
Guyana Prize–winning Chancy (The Loneliness of Angels) uses precise, exquisite language and deftly interlinked stories to convey not simply a visceral understanding of what happened that day, of the suffering incurred and the mutual support given even as help from abroad stuttered, but a portrait of Haiti itself ... All are remarkable and remarkably drawn characters whose heartrending experiences convey what it’s like 'having to live in the after, always, remembering the before' ... A highly recommended account of a terrible tragedy that also illuminates the deep interconnectedness of Haitian society.
The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti was global news because of the scale of the tragedy. In this remarkable novel, Chancy reminds us that the headlines and statistics were but part of the story of death and destruction. By giving voice to distinct individuals, Chancy creates, in each chapter, another layer of insight into this island community before and after. The story of Sara, Ma Lou, Sonia, Richard, Anne, and Olivier root the grief and trauma in lost loves and laughter; and they all add up to commentary on disaster management in a postcolonial world. Chancy draws us in with story lines that illuminate the social hierarchy of Port-au-Prince, glimpses of market life, and various neighborhood experiences, taking us through physical and emotional suffering to track generational loss in art, business, and developmental work. In her intricate tale of how the tragedy is multiplied by systemic social failures that follow the earthquake, Chancy examines the difficult question of how people move past grief of this magnitude, personally and collectively. Every element of the writing and characterization delivers a poignant experience.
Survivors and victims tell their powerful, moving stories in this fictional account of the 2010 Haitian earthquake ... In her searing new novel, Chancy, who spent years talking to survivors, sifts through the wreckage of this inconceivable calamity. She has shaped the stories of the living and the dead into a mighty fictional tapestry that reflects the terror, despair, and sorrow of the moment as she examines questions of Haitian identity in a world that doesn’t seem to care ... The stories are not always easy to read, but they shouldn’t be. Chancy offers fleeting redemption for some characters, but she does not deal in false hopes ... A devastating, personal, and vital account.
... extraordinary ... Multilayered, lyrical, and told by 10 people affected by the disaster, all connected by blood or friendship, Chancy’s dazzling take considers a myriad of topics including sexual violence, racism, a dysfunctional government, and capitalism ... There are many endings, with shifting fortunes and stories involving vodou, and it all coheres with a poignant mission involving Ma Lou and Anne four years after the earthquake. Each of the voices entrances, thanks to Chancy’s beautiful prose and rich themes. This is not to be missed.