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Aftermath: Myriam J. A. Chancy & Omar El Akkad

Sat, November 13 from 10:00 am - 11:00 am PST
1219 SW Park Avenue Portland, OR 97205

Two novels explore our contemporary crises through stories of people in the middle of them.

At the end of a long, sweltering day, as markets and businesses begin to close for the evening, an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude shakes the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. In What Storm, What Thunder, award-winning author Myriam J. A. Chancy masterfully charts the inner lives of the characters affected by the disaster—Richard, an expat and wealthy water-bottling executive with a secret daughter; the daughter, Anne, an architect who drafts affordable housing structures for a global NGO; a small-time drug trafficker, Leopold, who pines for a beautiful call girl; Sonia and her business partner, Dieudonné, who are followed by a man they believe is the vodou spirit of death; Didier, an emigrant musician who drives a taxi in Boston; Sara, a mother haunted by the ghosts of her children in an IDP camp; her husband, Olivier, an accountant forced to abandon the wife he loves; their son, Jonas, who haunts them both; and Ma Lou, the old woman selling produce in the market who remembers them all. Artfully weaving together these lives, witness is given to the desolation wreaked by nature and by man.

Omar El Akkad‘s What Strange Paradise brings the global refugee crisis down to the level of a child’s eyes. As the novel opens, more bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island. Another overfilled, ill-equipped, dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of its too many passengers: Syrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, all of them desperate to escape untenable lives in their homelands. And only one has made the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who has the good fortune to fall into the hands not of the officials but of Vänna: a teenage girl, native to the island, who lives inside her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain. And though she and the boy are complete strangers, though they don’t speak a common language, she determines to do whatever it takes to save him. But as the novel unfurls we begin to understand that this is not merely the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world, it is the story of our collective moment in this time: of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair — and of the way each of those things can blind us to reality, or guide us to a better one.

Moderated by Andrew Proctor, executive director of Literary Arts.

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THIS EVENT IS LIVE, IN PERSON. TO PARTICIPATE, YOU MUST ATTEND IN PERSON; IN-PERSON EVENTS WILL NOT BE BROADCAST VIRTUALLY.

Please note: All attendees to the in-person Festival must show proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of the event date to attend. Mask must be worn in accordance with local mandates. Read more here.

ORDER WHAT STORM, WHAT THUNDERANNIE BLOOM’S | BROADWAY | POWELL’S

ORDER WHAT STRANGE PARADISEANNIE BLOOM’S | BROADWAY | POWELL’S

Myriam J. A. Chancy

Myriam J. A. Chancy is a Guggenheim Fellow and HBA Chair of the Humanities at Scripps College.  She is the author of What Storm, What Thunder, a novel on the 2010 Haiti earthquake (Harper Collins Canada/Tin House USA 2021) which has been named a Best Book of Fall by TIME, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Good Housekeeping, Buzzfeed and more. Past novels include: The Loneliness of Angels (Peepal Tree 2010) winner of the 2011 Guyana Prize in Literature Caribbean Award, for Best Fiction 2010; The Scorpion’s Claw (Peepal Tree Press 2005); and Spirit of Haiti (Mango 2003), shortlisted in the Best First Book Category, Canada/Caribbean region of the Commonwealth Prize, 2004. She has authored several academic books, including, Framing Silence: Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women (Rutgers 1997; ebook, 2011). She served as an editorial advisory board member for PMLA from 2010-12, as a Humanities Advisor for the Fetzer Institute from 2011-13, and as a 2018 advisor for the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

Order What Storm, What Thunder: annie bloom's | broadway | powell's

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Omar El Akkad

Omar El Akkad is an author and a journalist. He has reported from Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, and many other locations around the world. His work earned Canada's National Newspaper Award for Investigative Journalism and the Goff Penny Award for young journalists. His writing has appeared in The GuardianLe MondeGuernicaGQ, and many other newspapers and magazines. His debut novel, American War, is an international bestseller and has been translated into thirteen languages. It won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, the Oregon Book Award for fiction, and the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, and has been nominated for more than ten other awards. It was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York TimesThe Washington PostGQ, NPR, and Esquire, and was selected by the BBC as one of 100 Novels That Shaped Our World. His latest novel is What Strange Paradise.

Order What Strange Paradise: annie bloom's | broadway | powell's

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Andrew Proctor

Executive Director

Pronouns: he/him Andrew has been the director of Literary Arts since 2009. Born and raised in Canada, Proctor, earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Music at Concordia University in Montreal, and later worked in London for the Cultural Attaché to the Canadian High Commission. In the UK, he also earned an MA in English Literature at the University of East Anglia under the supervision of England’s then Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion. From 2000-2004 Proctor worked as an editor for HarperCollins in New York City and then as the Membership and Operations Director of the PEN American Center, a global literary and human rights organization focused on the welfare of writers and editors. In total, Proctor has worked in the literary world for over twenty years in the governmental, for profit and nonprofit sectors.
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