Do Not Say We Have Nothing: A Novel (2016)
“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.
By Madeleine Thien
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Madeleine Thien is a Canadian short story writer and novelist.
She was educated at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. In 2001 Madeleine was awarded the Canadian Authors Association Air Canada Award for most promising writer under age 30.
Thien’s first book, Simple Recipes (2001), a collection of short stories, received the City of Vancouver Book Award, the VanCity Book Prize and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Her novel, Certainty, has been published internationally. It won the Amazon.com / Books in Canada First Novel Award and was a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize.