Inspired by the 1970 Bhola Cyclone, in which half a million people perished overnight, The Storm seamlessly interweaves five love stories that, together, chronicle fifty years of Bangladeshi history.
Shahryar, a recent Ph.D. graduate and father of nine-year-old Anna, must leave the US when his visa expires. As father and daughter spend their last remaining weeks together, Shahryar tells Anna the history of his country, beginning in a village on the Bay of Bengal, where a poor fisherman and his Hindu wife, who converted to Islam out of love for him, are preparing to face a storm of historic proportions. Their story intersects with those of a Japanese fighter pilot, a British female doctor stationed in Burma during World War II, a Buddhist monk originally from Austria, and a privileged couple in Calcutta who leave everything behind to move to East Pakistan following the Partition of India. The structure of this riveting novel mimics the storm itself – building to a series of revelatory and moving climaxes as it explores the many ways in which families love, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another.
At once grounded in history and fantastically imaginative, The Storm is a sweeping epic in the tradition of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance by an immensely talented new voice in international fiction.
“A sprawling intergenerational novel, touching on issues of colonialism, migration and communal hatred. . . . Anwar achieves his final goal as the novel eventually pulls at one’s heartstrings as the ‘vicious cycle of life’ becomes evident.”
“This first novel will touch and astound readers.”
“Lovers whisper, immigration papers rustle, gunfire explodes as this novel sweeps backwards and forwards across continents and decades. . . . The interconnected stories come alive with sensual detail. . . . This is Bangladeshi history—all our history—as we enter a new world—our world—through the absorbing stories of The Storm.”
“This book is a marvel, combining the sweep of a saga with the precision of a page-turner. Arif Anwar moves us deftly through time and across borders, beautifully illustrating the strange intersections we call fate, and reminding us how the past shapes the present.”
“Complex, elegantly-composed, and page-turning at once, The Storm is a novel both grand and intimate in its scope. Arif Anwar’s ability to inhabit a variety of characters across continents and generations is nothing short of astounding. I adored this book.”
“Much of the charm and power of The Storm lies in negotiating this push and pull between the hero and the trickster, the magical and the mundane — and Anwar has handled it beautifully.”
“This riveting novel weaves the interlocking tales of compelling characters finding their way through turbulent times, crisscrossing nations and continents, finding redemption in the gift of love and the magical power of words. The Storm is lyrical, lovely and captivating.”
“While deceit and cruelty occur, these stories are suffused with love and compassion that most often motivate action. A remarkable debut, in which fiction vividly portrays specific events in history.”
“Arif Anwar’s masterful storytelling crosses continents and generations, illuminating how personal choices can have sweeping repercussions. The Storm is an elegant, stunning novel, which captured my imagination and my heart until the end.”
“Arif Anwar’s The Storm is a brilliantly textured tapestry exploring the natural and man-made disasters that define a human story. And like a true storm, it is by turns devastating, humbling and cathartic.”