Anna, Like Thunder
About the Book
In 1808, the Russian Ship St. Nikolai ran aground off the Olympic Peninsula; this novel is based on this astounding historical event and the lives of the people affected.
In 1808, eighteen-year-old Anna Petrovna Bulygina is aboard the Russian ship St. Nikolai when it runs aground off on the west coast of Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula. The crew, tasked with trading for sea otter pelts and exploring the coast, are forced to shore into Indigenous territory, where they are captured, enslaved, and then traded among three different Indigenous communities. Terrified at first, Anna soon discovers that nothing—including slavery—is what she expected. She begins to question Russian imperialist aspirations, the conduct of the crew, and her own beliefs and values as she experiences a way of life she never could have imagined.
Based on historical record, Anna, Like Thunder blends fact and fiction to explore the early days of contact between Indigenous people and Europeans off the west coast of North America and offers a fresh interpretation of history.
“An intimate engagement with a little known ghost of North American history and memory.” —Jaspreet Singh, author of Helium and November
“A beautifully rendered and intimate tale of loss, discovery and redemption, Anna, Like Thunder takes readers into the heart of North American west coast Indigenous culture: the forests, beaches and ocean that embrace and sustain them. Peggy Herring writes so seamlessly that I felt like I was Russian Anna Bulygina, learning to dry salmon, following a wolf to safety, or confronting the tragic consequences of my colonial heritage on the people who’ve kept me alive and befriended me.” —Ann Eriksson, author of The Performance
“Herring combines written and oral history, Russian legends, years of research, and a brilliant, heartful imagination to tell Anna’s story . . . Having consulted the Makah, Quileute and Hoh extensively on language, culture and history for this project, Herring is able to bring readers into an incredibly detailed world. And by weaving in recalled stories of Russian folklore from Anna’s mother, as well as Enlightenment science from her father, Herring makes it clear that issues of what we know, how we know it, and what our minds can be open to, are all key, not just to this story and the era of contact, but of ongoing relationship-building between peoples.” —Amy Reiswig, Focus
“Through Anna’s emotional narrations and personal journey, Herring crafts a page turner that does not disappoint.” —Broken Pencil
Interview with CBC’s North by Northwest