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Madeleine Thien

Autor(a) de Do Not Say We Have Nothing

7+ Works 1,829 Membros 79 Reviews 2 Favorited

About the Author

Madeline Thien, 26, is the Canadian born daughter of Malaysian-Chinese immigrants. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. She live in Vancouver, BC. Madeleine Thien was born in Vancouver, Canada. She received an MFA in creative writing from the University of mostrar mais British Columbia. She is the author of Certainty, Dogs at the Perimeter, and Do Not Say We Have Nothing, which won the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize. She also wrote the story collection Simple Recipes. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos
Image credit: bc writer's fest

Obras de Madeleine Thien

Do Not Say We Have Nothing (2016) 1,298 cópias
Dogs at the Perimeter (2011) 180 cópias
Certainty (2006) 163 cópias
Simple Recipes (2001) 109 cópias
Granta 141: Canada (2017) — Editor — 58 cópias
The Chinese Violin (2001) 20 cópias
Hiroshige Takes the SkyTrain (2017) 1 exemplar(es)

Associated Works

Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation (2017) — Contribuinte — 124 cópias
Granta 114: Aliens (2011) — Contribuinte — 95 cópias
Letters to a Writer of Color (2023) — Contribuinte — 18 cópias


Conhecimento Comum

Nome padrão
Thien, Madeleine
Data de nascimento
Local de nascimento
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
University of British Columbia (MFA|Creative Writing)
Simon Fraser University
short story writer
Pequena biografia
Madeleine Thien is the Canadian-born daughter of Malaysian-Chinese immigrants. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. She received the 2001 Canadian Authors Association Air Canada Award and the 1998 Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop Emerging Writer Award for fiction, and her collection Simple Recipes was named a notable book by the 2001 Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize.

Thien won the 2006 First-Novel Award from Amazon.ca and Books in Canada. The first novel award comes with a prize of $7,500.

She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.



Do Not Say We Have Nothing has such richness of language, theme and story that it’s hard to know where to begin. Connections between family and friends; music in one’s life and culture; stories and the recording of them; loss, grief and memory; the cost and the need of revolution – Madeleine Thien treats these with compassion, subtlety and ambiguity, but she leaves it for the reader to determine their significance.
Thien writes with emotional intensity that brings a reader into the character’s struggles, whether it’s in the nationalist war for the independence of China, a family victimized by politicized mobs in the “Cultural Revolution” or young people trying to correct the errors of the Communist Party at Tiananmen Square. In the context of these vast social movements, Thien also deals movingly with individuals trying to relate to each other as friends, family members and colleagues. And she explores the inner lives of her characters as they try to express themselves through stories, music, even mathematics.
For me, the themes about revolutionary change are among the most interesting, and unusual, in a novel. The great hardships of the war to free China from Japanese occupation, and then to install the Communist government, are the starting point of the novel’s histories. Music and stories help connect people and help them deal with the hardships. Skipping over the starvation of the “great leap forward,” the novel then takes up the “great proletarian cultural revolution.” We see this from the point of view of its victims, who are manipulated into destroying each other as political factions fight for control of the state. Here, revolution seems completely destructive down to the soul and psyche of those involved – much like the ultimate betrayal by Winston Smith in 1984. Music and stories are wiped out.
This gets reversed in the Tiananmen uprising, when we see the passion for change on the part of the students, and also of the residents of Beijing and throughout China. Again, this has extreme costs but Thien also brings the reader into the hopes and energies of those affected by the uprising, and shows the great creativity it unleashed in music and writing. (I found this section particularly fascinating, as it shows the involvement of ordinary people across China in supporting the students, something that I wasn’t aware of before. If it’s an accurate picture, it’s easy to see why the party bureaucracy repressed the Tiananmen revolt so viciously.)
This is where the title becomes clear – it seems to mean: Do not say we have nothing when we have our links to each other that keep us moving ahead, even when it seems we have nothing else.
Interweaving all of this makes for complex writing, so the book is a slow read. But Thien’s writing is so evocative, that I was happy to give it plenty of time. It’s both beautifully descriptive and allusive, so it’s worth a little contemplation to see what the writing reveals about the characters and the story. Like poetry, rushing through the text would miss its richness and meaning. Also, since it’s open to interpretation, I think every reader will take a different understanding of the story.
For example, the Book of Records is never explained, but it seems to represent both creativity and history, inspiring and connecting people, but repressed by the Party regime. Like the creativity of the musicians, its survival is the possibility of renewal in spite of censorship and repression.
Initially, I wasn’t sure I would like the book. But Thien’s storytelling is so engaging that she overcame my resistance, and I completely fell for the story.
… (mais)
rab1953 | outras 53 resenhas | Jul 20, 2023 |
This book falls into the category of being both wonderful and challenging to read. It's very complex, and Thien definitely assumes her readers are smart enough to connect the many dots. It's lengthy, dense, and slow to read. That being said, I loved it. Her writing is so thought provoking, and I learned a lot about Chinese history. Frankly, I'm shocked this book didn't actually win the Man Booker prize over [b:The Sellout|22237161|The Sellout|Paul Beatty|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1403430899s/22237161.jpg|41610676].

A few tips if you decide to take this book on. First, Wikipedia has a family tree. Honestly, in the beginning it is a little hard to track the relationships. It's really not that hard once you get the hang of it, but it does distract you from the storyline when you keep thinking to yourself, "now who is that person's father?").


You're welcome.

Second, I really knew almost nothing (to the point of it being embarrassing) about Chinese history. Fortunately, my husband is like a living breathing history textbook able to provide a wonderful summation at a moment's notice. In case your spouse isn't, the link below is a very fast, easy reference about the time period in question. Well worth the five minutes it takes to read.


So what's the book about? Everything. Love, loss, oppression, heroism, identity. It's epic in scope (covering three generations) and heartbreaking in its details. There's a thread of music woven throughout the story, and frankly I know little about classical music, but I'd love to re-read this and listen to some of the music referenced. I suspect that this book is one that would stand up very, very well to re-reading . . .now that I know the characters and how they fit together, I would be able to focus more on the language and other aspects of the book that make it so rich.
… (mais)
Anita_Pomerantz | outras 53 resenhas | Mar 23, 2023 |
Un invierno, Janie, investigadora en Montreal, abandona de repente a su marido y a su hijo, aparentemente sin motivo. Se refugia en casa de su amigo y mentor el neurólogo Hiroji Matsui, quien ha desaparecido de forma misteriosa. Mientras se mueve entre las pertinencias de Hiroji, Janie va descubriendo fragmentos del pasado de su amigo y, poco a poco, del suyo propio. Con ella, el lector viaja a la Camboya de los años setenta, donde Janie, entonces una niña, vivió las consecuencias del terror de los jemeres rojos. Y donde un hermano de Hiroji, médico de la Cruz Roja, desapareció. Las historias de Janie y de Hiroji y su hermano se entrecruzan en un relato íntimo y profundo de huida y supervivencia. A través de ellas, el libro evoca el totalitarismo visto a través de los ojos de una niña y traza un mapa de la batalla que libra la memoria enfrentada a la pérdida y los horrores de la guerra. Atrapada por los recuerdos que creyó haber dejado atrás, Janie buscará la salvación en un mundo ensombrecido por los horrores del pasado.… (mais)
Natt90 | outras 8 resenhas | Mar 7, 2023 |
Initially set in Canada, Li-Ling (aka Marie) tries to understand what led to her father’s suicide. This goal takes her back multiple generations to the Cultural Revolution in China. Her investigation is assisted by Ai-Ming, a young woman who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square. These two young women find that their family histories are interconnected.

It is an ambitious undertaking, a sweeping story of two families with ties to Chinese musicians. During the Cultural Revolution, people in the arts became a target for “reeducation through labor.” It gets at the heart of the artist, trying to hold onto their love of music and art while surrounded by an increasingly restrictive society.

Thien writes beautifully, with an emotional intensity. It is not a quick or easy read and requires the reader’s focused attention to keep track of the many individuals, family relationships, and historical events. I was particularly riveted by the dramatic account of the Tiananmen Square protests. I appreciated the numerous references to classical music and literature.

It is a story of the impact of historical events on the individual, and the many types of tragedies they experienced. It is also a poignant story of trying to preserve the essence of that which makes life worth living. It is a story of great love and great loss. It is ultimately a story of refusing to accept the denial of self (such as self-expression, identity, prior allegiances, and personal interests) required by the Party.
… (mais)
Castlelass | outras 53 resenhas | Dec 26, 2022 |



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Associated Authors

Catherine Leroux Translator, Editor
Margaret Atwood Contributor
Anakana Schofield Contributor
Alexander MacLeod Contributor
Fanny Britt Contributor
Alex Leslie Contributor
Alain Farah Contributor
Kim Fu Contributor
Naomi Fontaine Contributor
Douglas Coupland Contributor
Krista Foss Contributor
Falen Johnson Contributor
Nadim Roberts Contributor
Benoit Jutras Contributor
France Daigle Contributor
Anosh Irani Contributor
Larry Tremblay Contributor
Dionne Brand Contributor
Lisa Moore Contributor
Johanna Skibsrud Contributor
Paul Seesequasis Contributor
Dominique Fortier Contributor
Gary Barwin Contributor
Karen Solie Contributor
Rawi Hage Contributor
Daphne Marlatt Contributor
Angela Lin Narrator
Hélène Rioux Translator
Vicente Campos Translator


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