A spellbinding, sweeping novel about a Malayan mother who becomes an unlikely spy for the invading Japanese forces during WWII—and the shocking consequences that rain upon her community and family.
Malaya, 1945. Cecily Alcantara’s family is in terrible danger: her fifteen-year-old son, Abel, has disappeared, and her youngest daughter, Jasmin, is confined in a basement to prevent being pressed into service at the comfort stations. Her eldest daughter Jujube, who works at a tea house frequented by drunk Japanese soldiers, becomes angrier by the day.
Cecily knows two things: that this is all her fault; and that her family must never learn the truth.
A decade prior, Cecily had been desperate to be more than a housewife to a low-level bureaucrat in British-colonized Malaya. A chance meeting with the charismatic General Fuijwara lured her into a life of espionage, pursuing dreams of an “Asia for Asians.” Instead, Cecily helped usher in an even more brutal occupation by the Japanese. Ten years later as the war reaches its apex, her actions have caught up with her. Now her family is on the brink of destruction—and she will do anything to save them.
Spanning years of pain and triumph, told from the perspectives of four unforgettable characters, The Storm We Made is a dazzling saga about the horrors of war; the fraught relationships between the colonized and their oppressors, and the ambiguity of right and wrong when survival is at stake.
About the Author
Vanessa Chan was born and raised in Malaysia. Her short stories have been published in Electric Lit, Kenyon Review, Ecotone,and more. She was the 2021 Stanley Elkin scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference and has also received scholar awards to attend the Bread Loaf and Tin House writers’ conferences. The Storm We Made is her first novel.
“The Storm We Made is poised to be a breakout debut of 2024.” —Kate Dwyer, Esquire
"Exceptionally brave. Heart-breaking, beautiful, and moving. Destined to be a classic. The Storm We Made is a celebration of stories that have been silenced or erased. Vanessa Chan writes with admirable power, confidence and grace. By confronting the horror of colonization and war, this book opens the pathway to peace and healing. A significant contribution to world's literature." —Nguyen Phan Que Mai, author of the international bestseller, The Mountains Sing and Dust Child
"The Storm We Made is brave, funny and immensely moving. One of the most powerful and confident debuts I’ve ever read. A storytelling star is born!" —Tracy Chevalier, author of the international bestseller, Girl with a Pearl Earring
"In Vanessa Chan’s spellbinding debut, one woman’s desire to change her destiny shapes the future of a colonized nation. Combining cinematic grandeur with nuanced storytelling, The Storm We Made offers the hidden history that only fiction can reveal: the everyday yearnings of people surviving a brutal occupation, children trying to make sense of the unspeakable, and the search for love. I’ll never forget this book." —Jessamine Chan, New York Times best-selling author of The School for Good Mothers
“Devastatingly beautiful and extraordinary . . . Vanessa shines an evocative light on this piece of history. I'm going to be thinking about this one for a very long time.” —Jessica George, New York Times best-selling author of Maame
“Vanessa Chan's The Storm We Made is a phenomenon unto itself. This is no mere debut, but rather the summoning of a story buried so deeply in a nation that it could only surface with a talent great enough to do it justice.” —Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk and The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
"Like the most dazzling historical fiction, THE STORM WE MADE etches intimate details on an epic canvas. Vanessa Chan’s characters face agonizing choices under the darkness of colonization and war, and yet she imbues them with an indelible spirit of resistance that never lets you forget the light. A fearless, gripping, morally complex story by a writer to watch." -Dawnie Walton, national best-selling author of The Final Revival of Opal and Nev
“An intricate puzzle in which [Chan] deftly moves narrative pieces in time and among viewpoints.” —Booklist