Winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award
Finalist for the Man Booker Prize and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction
"A powerfully expansive novel…Thien writes with the mastery of a conductor." —New York Times Book Review
“In a single year, my father left us twice. The first time, to end his marriage, and the second, when he took his own life. I was ten years old.”
Master storyteller Madeleine 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 and their children, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square. At the center of this epic story are two young women, Marie and Ai-Ming. Through their relationship Marie strives to piece together the tale of her fractured family in present-day Vancouver, seeking answers in the fragile layers of their collective story. Her quest will unveil how Kai, her enigmatic father, a talented pianist, and Ai-Ming’s father, the shy and brilliant composer, Sparrow, along with the violin prodigy Zhuli were forced to reimagine their artistic and private selves during China’s political campaigns and how their fates reverberate through the years with lasting consequences.
With maturity and sophistication, humor and beauty, Thien has crafted a novel that is at once intimate and grandly political, rooted in the details of life inside China yet transcendent in its universality.
|Publisher:||Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)|
About the Author
Madeleine Thien is the author of three novels and a collection of stories, and her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Her most recent novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize. She lives in Montreal, Canada.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Do Not Say We Have Nothing" is a sprawling story that follows two families through the Chinese Cultural Revolution and belong. The novel opens with the suicide of Kai, as told by his daughter Li-ling. Shortly after Kai's death, Ai-ming comes to live with Li-Ling and her mother in Canada, fleeing China because of her involvement with the Tiananmen Square protests. Ai-ming is the daughter of Sparrow, who was Kai's teacher during the Cultural Revolution. Thus begins Li-Ling's quest to track down the threads of both her and Ai-ming's families, traveling across countries and time to do so. This novel is vast, sprawling, enthralling and dense. The characters are many, the story lines are complicated, and the historical references are numerous. It is also difficult to categorize this novel, which walks the line between historical fiction and faux-memior, interweaving personal heartbreak with historical tragedy. If this description does not deter you, then you are the perfect reader for this novel. Despite how long and complicated this book was (my copy even came with a handy family tree at the beginning, which was necessary to keep all the characters straight) I was deeply invested in each of the characters and their fate. The book juxtaposes the political with the personal, showing characters who hide a precious book and compose music constantly, but who much try and conform with their changing society to survive. Thien has written a book that is complicated, often messy, and sometimes without resolution, but such is life. This book is an example of stunning story telling, with a narrative that feels personal even as you are being dragged decades into the past and halfway around the world. I had the urge to immediately reread this novel, just so I could put all the narrative threads together again, in a way that made even more sense than the first time. If you want a spacious, ambitious novel that will keep you thinking long after its over, this is the book for you.
Read this book. Well written, insightful and relevant to Americans today.