The Storm We Made

The Storm We Made

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Susan's Review

Vanessa Chan prefaces her remarkable debut novel, which spans the years 1935-1945, with an account of how she discovered details about the Japanese occupation of the country then known as Malaya. In her culture, she begins, ‘our grandparents love us by not speaking’; but over the years, she was able to ‘excavate the truth’ from a grandmother who spent her adolescence in occupied Kuala Lumper. Combining personal stories - the struggle to feed families, the shutting down of schools and the violence of the Japanese secret police - with extensive research undertaken over many years, Chan has created a confronting and illuminating account of a politically turbulent decade unfamiliar to many western readers.

The novel begins with the perspective of Cecily, a bored wife and mother, who assumes the unlikely role as a spy for the Japanese during their occupation of Malaya during World War Two. Naively assuming that this new regime will be more supportive of its Asian counterparts than the vanquished British colonisers, Cecily is haunted by the fear that her betrayal will have ultimately have destructive consequences for herself and the family she loves. What follows is a gripping, sometimes harrowing tale of Japanese brutality seen from the perspectives of Cecily and her three children. Richly polyphonic, The Storm We Made asks us to reflect on the legacies of colonialism, the value of friendship, the lure of toxic masculinity, and the elusive search for moral certainty when survival is at stake.

Chan is skilled at evoking both the horror of external locations and the complexities of her characters’ inner lives. Her novel is a vividly imagined and beautifully written exploration of the tensions created by cultural and racial difference in a particular time and place. Highly readable, and highly recommended.

Publishers Reviews

Her decision changed history.

Now her family must survive it.

Destined to become a modern-day classic, The Storm We Made is a dazzling saga about the power of familial love in the face of the horrors of war, for fans of Pachinko and All the Light We Cannot See

Other Reviews

'I'll never forget this book' JESSAMINE CHAN

'One of the most powerful debuts I've ever read. A storytelling star is born' TRACY CHEVALIER

'A striking, moving exploration of good and evil, it is a novel that will stay with you' CECILE PIN

'Exceptionally brave, heart-breaking, beautiful, and moving. A significant contribution to world's literature' NGUYEN PHAN QUE MAI