“What Storm, What Thunder” by Myriam J.A. Chancy is 2024 One Maryland One Book Selection

March 12, 2024

Maryland Humanities’ Statewide Reading and Discussion Program Marks Seventeen Years

The book cover to "What Storm, What Thunder" by Myriam J.A. Chancy. (Baltimore, MD) – Maryland Humanities is pleased to announce the selection of What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam J.A. Chancy for the 2024 One Maryland One Book program.

The Haitian-Canadian-American author’s novel follows a cast of characters during the 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti. They realize that everything they thought was certain suddenly isn’t, as they endure the chaos of a natural disaster. Readers witness an NGO architect, a water-bottling executive, a drug trafficker, an immigrant cab driver, and others in scenes before, after, and during the earthquake.

What Storm, What Thunder made the shortlist for the Aspen Words Literary Prize and the longlist for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. Chancy’s 2010 novel, The Loneliness of Angels, also made the latter list. A forthcoming novel, Village Weavers, is set for release in April.

Maryland Humanities will announce details on the tour this summer and a calendar of free public events, including an Author Tour, will be available online beginning this summer. A Selection Committee consisting of eighteen Marylanders— including teachers, scholars, librarians, writers, booksellers, and community workers representing ten counties and Baltimore—chose the novel for One Maryland One Book.  A public call for books under the theme of “Restorative Futures” garnered nearly 250 titles, from which the committee then made their selection. 

Myriam J.A. Chancy, a Black woman who wears a printed white shirt, black sweater, and hair in a ponytail.
Myriam J.A. Chancy, photo courtesy of N. Affonso

“The novel takes its title in part from an epigraph by Frederick Douglass,” says Chancy, “himself from the Baltimore area, writing in his essay, ‘What to the Negro is the fourth of the July?’ in 1852: ‘For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.’ Of course, Douglass was not calling for disaster but for seismic change in America’s social order in ways that I believe the reality of the earthquake called for in the Haitian context in more recent years.” 

Chancy adds: “It is not lost on me that Maryland has been home to many people from what was once called Saint Domingue, from the period of the Haitian Revolution to Douglass’s appointment as US ambassador to Haiti from 1889-1890, to the more recent influx of Haitian emigrants.”

Maryland Humanities CEO Lindsey Baker says: “This year’s One Maryland One Book theme feels important and timely. I’m looking forward to seeing what resonates with Marylanders about What Storm, What Thunder and the amazing programming I know our partners will come up with.”

About One Maryland One Book

When we read a great book, we can’t wait to share the experience and talk about it with others. That’s one of the joys of reading.

In that spirit, through our Maryland Center for the Book program, Maryland Humanities created One Maryland One Book (OMOB) to bring together diverse people in communities across the state through the shared experience of reading the same book. We invite readers to participate in book-centered discussions and related programs at public libraries, high schools, colleges, museums, bookstores, and community and senior centers the state.

OMOB programs, including an author tour, take place each year in the fall. A calendar of free public events will be available online beginning this summer.

One Maryland One Book is sponsored by The Institute of Museum and Library Services via the Maryland State Library Agency, as well as The Library of Congress Center for the Book, and PNC Foundation.

About Maryland Center for the Book

The Maryland Center for the Book (MCFB)—an affiliate of the national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress—develops and supports literary programs and outreach activities that engage citizens across Maryland in literature and reading. As a program of Maryland Humanities, MCFB highlights our region’s literary heritage and calls attention to the importance of books, reading, literacy, and libraries.

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