Electric Literature is thrilled to reveal the cover for Vanessa Chan’s highly anticipated debut novel, The Storm We Made, which will be published by MarySue Rucci Books in January, 2024.
Malaya, 1945. A family in harrowing danger: a missing teenage son, a youngest daughter locked away in a basement as the only means of preventing her from service as a comfort woman. An angry eldest daughter who can’t avoid drunken Japanese soldiers while working at the tea house, and a violent Japanese occupation that looms ever closer.
It may already be too late for Cecily Alcantara’s family. She blames herself for a decade spent engaged in espionage, dreaming of an “Asia for Asians”, lured by the charming General Fujiwara’s promise of a life that would transcend British Colonialism. Her efforts to usher in a new regime, the even more merciless Japanese occupation, have finally caught up to her. As the war reaches its apex, Cecily’s family hangs in the balance, and she will stop at nothing to save them.
The Storm We Made moves through a decade of pain, triumph, and wartime atrocities. You won’t soon forget the way these characters render the complicated relationship between the colonized and their oppressors, and the question of right and wrong when survival is on the line.
Here is the cover, designed by Vi-An Nguyen.
“Vanessa’s novel is incredibly evocative and rich with detail, so there were many possibilities for this cover–from elements of the plot like a rain-soaked wheelbarrow, to intriguing visual symbols like a rooster or the moon,” says Vi-An Nguyen, the book jacket designer. “And of course the unforgettable characters and vibrant setting. We experimented with all of these ideas and more, but ultimately this gorgeous painting I found from the Malaysian artist Fadilah Karim was perfect. There’s a strong sense of character and movement and the surreal brushstrokes convey the emotional turmoil and scope of the story so well. There’s also a timeless quality to a painting, which makes sense for a novel rooted in history but also so relevant today. I’m so grateful to art director Jaya Miceli for bringing me onto the project.”
TAKSU Galleries, which houses the painting, jumped at the chance to be part of the project, says Judy Yuen, director. “Our gallery was thrilled when we got the request for Fadilah Karim’s artwork image Motion II to be a book cover written by Vanessa Chan. It strengthens the connection between Malaysian art and literature. It just made sense for us to be part of this. A first and significant achievement for TAKSU Galleries. It’s a perfect match when the artwork can complement the theme of the story. We’re proud to be part of this exciting launch and that we can promote Malaysian arts, culture, and history by featuring authentic and local artists.”
Chan feels an immediate, almost-fated connection to this cover, noting how much it personifies the novel’s title. “As soon as I saw this cover as an option, I knew. I felt startled, awakened, and remember blinking in wonder. The boldness, the person in motion – denoting, to my mind, a person who IS a storm, a reflection of the four main characters in the book who are all flashpoints to their communities, friends, and country. In fact, if you look closely, a fiery horizon is reflected in her face. I also love the directness of the font and how unquestioning it is. When I learned that the art was a piece by Malaysian artist Fadilah Karim, it felt meant to be – a Malaysian author, writing about Malaysia, with art by a Malaysian artist. Our team has fondly given the person on the cover a superhero name – Miss Blur, our perfect storm. I am beyond grateful to Fadilah Karim, TAKSU gallery, and Vi-An Nguyen, who found this personification of everything my novel represents. No questions, no edits – this was THE one.”
The Storm We Made will be published by Marysue Rucci books on January 9th, 2024, and is available for preorder here.
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