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Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Category: Book
By (author): Thien, Madeleine
Subject:  FICTION / Canadian
  FICTION / Cultural Heritage
  FICTION / Historical
  FICTION / Literary
Publisher: Knopf Random Vintage Canada
Published: May 2016
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 480
Size: 9.00in x 6.00in

Bookshelf comment

This week Madeline Thien has won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for Do Not Say You Have Nothing. Last week she won the Governor General's Award. Winning both major literary awards is a rare feat! And internationally she made the shortlist for the Man Booker Award. This wonderful novel illuminates the lives of two generations of families who lived through the cultural revolution. Her superb attention to detail seals your attachment to her many characters and their extreme challenges. Through a connected band of characters spanning generation she chronicles the suffering of the mass conformist campaigns in China starting with the 100 flowers and ending with the Tiananmen square demonstrations.

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*An extraordinary novel set in China before, during and after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989--the breakout book we've been waiting for from a bestselling, First Novel Award winner.

Madeleine Thien's new novel is breathtaking in scope and ambition even as it is hauntingly intimate. With the ease and skill of a master storyteller, Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations--those who lived through Mao's Cultural Revolution in the mid-twentieth century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in one of the most important political moments of the past century. With exquisite writing sharpened by a surprising vein of wit and sly humour, Thien has crafted unforgettable characters who are by turns flinty and headstrong, dreamy and tender, foolish and wise.
     At the centre of this epic tale, as capacious and mysterious as life itself, are enigmatic Sparrow, a genius composer who wishes desperately to create music yet can find truth only in silence; his mother and aunt, Big Mother Knife and Swirl, survivors with captivating singing voices and an unbreakable bond; Sparrow's ethereal cousin Zhuli, daughter of Swirl and storyteller Wen the Dreamer, who as a child witnesses the denunciation of her parents and as a young woman becomes the target of denunciations herself; and headstrong, talented Kai, best friend of Sparrow and Zhuli, and a determinedly successful musician who is a virtuoso at masking his true self until the day he can hide no longer. Here, too, is Kai's daughter, the ever-questioning mathematician Marie, who pieces together the tale of her fractured family in present-day Vancouver, seeking a fragile meaning in the layers of their collective story.
     With maturity and sophistication, humour and beauty, a huge heart and impressive understanding, Thien has crafted a novel that is at once beautifully intimate and grandly political, rooted in the details of daily life inside China, yet transcendent in its universality.
Review Quote*"With compassion and meticulous precision, Madeleine Thien explores ordinary lives shaped by extraordinary political events. Like a beautiful and complex piece of music, the narration unfolds in layers, returning again and again to the central themes of family, memory and loss. Thien is a serious and gifted writer." -Ma Jian, author of Beijing Coma
Biographical NoteMADELEINE THIEN's first book of fiction, Simple Recipes, won four awards in Canada and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Her novel Certainty was a national bestseller, won the First Novel Award, and was a Globe and Mail Best Book. Her second novel, Dogs at the Perimeter, was also a Globe and Mail Best Book. Originally from Vancouver, Thien currently divides her time between that city and Montreal. The author lives in Montreal, QC.