One Maryland One Book 2024: “What Storm, What Thunder”

March 12, 2024
by Eden Etzel

We are delighted to announce the 2024 One Maryland One Book selection of What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam J.A. Chancy. The novel follows a cast of characters who are forced to endure the chaos of a strong earthquake. They realize that everything they thought was certain suddenly isn’t. Released by Tin House books in 2022, the novel was chosen by the Selection Committee under this year’s theme of Restorative Futures.  

What Storm, What Thunder features a cast of loosely-connected characters in and around Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in the aftermath of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the country in 2010. Chancy shows us her characters – an NGO architect, a water-bottling executive, a drug trafficker, an immigrant cab driver, and others – in scenes that take place before and after the earthquake, and sometimes even during the event itself. We learn their pasts and plans, all as the deadly earthquake strikes. Written in eloquent, heart-wrenching prose, Chancy captures the reader and shows them a vision of Haiti that is at once heartbreaking and yet hopeful. 

Our Selection Committee felt What Storm, What Thunder represented a timely pick, as it takes place in the aftermath of large-scale, society-changing devastation. They also cited it as  a wonderful opportunity for high school students to learn about a different culture through a recent historical event that captures many of today’s concerns.

Alejandra B. of our selection committee said “It would be good for immigrant families to see additional languages besides English being appreciated in literature.”

Topics such as poverty, the environment, and disaster response would make readers more aware of what it can be like in other parts of the world. Ida J., another committee member said, the novel “would be an intriguing read about the histories/interactions between varying nations.”

What Storm, What Thunder was selected among our Top 3 finalists. The list included the recently-published Susan Muaddi Darraj’s Behind You Is the Sea that follows three Palestinian-American families living in Baltimore, and The World Doesn’t Require You, Rion Amilcar Scott’s collection of stories which takes place in the fictional town of Cross River, Maryland.

Darraj’s Behind You Is the Sea dives right into the action of three Palestinian-American families who live in Baltimore: the Ammars; the Baladis, and the Salamehs. The families are both separated and brought together by social class, gender, generational divide, and religious values. What the selection committee saw in this book was the chance to highlight a Maryland author and to feature fictionalized immigrant families and how they have adapted to American life right in Baltimore. 

Rion Amilcar Scott’s The World Doesn’t Require You is a collection of short stories and a novella that all take place in the fictional town of Cross River, Maryland, the location of the only successful slave revolt in the early 1800s. Scott’s characters range from being sons of God to a doctoral student playing a children’s game that goes back to the days of slavery. Scott is a professor at the University of Maryland and the committee thought it would be interesting to have a local author whose work both on and off the page is deeply connected with Maryland. Committee member Michele G. said that she “felt like she knew everyone in the book” and that the book “blurs reality with history and truth in fiction.” 

We hope that we put What Storm, What Thunder on your radar this year. Pick up a copy and read it before the fall when OMOB partners will be hosting related events in your community. Interested organizations and institutions can sign up to become a program partner and receive a limited quantity of free copies of the book with the agreement to hold a related program or event. Partners will also be invited to apply for funding opportunities to support programs. Information for this will be made public during this summer. 

Have more questions? You can reach out to our Program Officer for Literature programs, Aditya Desai at