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Myriam Chancy: What Storm, What Thunder

In this episode of Badass Black Girl, MJ talks to scholar and creative writer Myriam Chancy. They discuss how literature became a central part of Myriam’s work, and how her Haitian parents felt about her career path. They discuss both her scholarly and creative books and the differences in writing scholarly work versus novels. They also talk about the inheritance of spirituality and the mystical component of writing and other creative arts, which leads to a conversation about the interplay between visual arts like photography or painting and writing. They also discuss the impact of the pandemic on the creative and grief processes of artists and writers.

Myriam J. A. Chancy is the Hartley Burr Alexander Chair of the Humanities at Scripps College. Her books include From Sugar to Revolution: Women's Visions of Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic and Framing Silence: Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women

What Storm, What Thunder, is forthcoming from HarperCollins Canada and Tin House USA, September 2021.

Novel Synopsis:

At the end of a long, sweltering day, on January 12, 2010, as markets and businesses attempt to close for the day, an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude, shook the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, leaving over 250,000 dead, over 1.3 million injured and another 1.5 million homeless. The earthquake itself lasted for only 45 seconds, but nothing would be the same again for anyone on the ground, for any Haitian watching monuments fall to the ground from afar, on television screens, for anyone with a personal tie to its land. What Storm, What Thunder tells the story of the earthquake from 10 distinct voices, of those who lived through the “before” and “after” of the earthquake from the mother who will never see her children again or her husband, the accountant, who cannot compute how he has lost everything in forty five seconds, to the child whose soccer dreams are shattered the moment his leg is amputated, to the errant daughter of a water-bottling magnate who himself returns to Haiti just days before the disaster with a plan to conquer the local market. This is a story of lives entwining and splitting at crucial moments in which all could be gained or lost against a backdrop of a city teeming with despair and locked in a history of repressed hopes and dreams. It is a story that calls us to remember, whether we are Haitian or not, and to rethink disaster not only as the story of a nation but as the story of human beings who might, one day, also be ourselves.

For an excerpt from What Storm, What Thunder, please follow the following link below to Il Tolomeo, the comparative literature journal of the University of Venice, Ca’ Foscari, Venice, Italy:

Another excerpt from the novel appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Vol. 56, in 2015; for a reflection, 5 years after the earthquake, published by The Massachusetts Review on their blog, please go to:

For a short podcast interview on the novel conducted by Nigerian/South African filmmaker, Akin Omotoso, go to:

Please look for the novel in August/September 2021!


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