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Do Not Say We Have Nothing: A Novel
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Published:
W. W. Norton & Company 2016
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Description

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.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
10/11/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780393609899
ASIN:
B01KKNM8UQ
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Madeleine Thien. (2016). Do Not Say We Have Nothing: A Novel. W. W. Norton & Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Madeleine Thien. 2016. Do Not Say We Have Nothing: A Novel. W. W. Norton & Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Madeleine Thien, Do Not Say We Have Nothing: A Novel. W. W. Norton & Company, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Madeleine Thien. Do Not Say We Have Nothing: A Novel. W. W. Norton & Company, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
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Date Updated:
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      • bioText: 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.
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fullDescription

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.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Financial Times
      • content: Extraordinary...It recalls the panoramic scale and domestic minutiae of the great 19th-century Russian writers...[A] highly suspenseful drama...as courageous and principled as resistance itself.
      • premium: False
      • source: Sam Sacks;The Wall Street Journal
      • content: [A] graceful, intricate novel whose humanity threads through it like a stirring melodic line.
      • premium: False
      • source: Sunday Times
      • content: Music is at the center of this ambitious saga of totalitarian China, where classical musicians were persecuted during the Maoist Cultural Revolution...Thien's intricate narrative slowly lays bare the lives of three musical friends living through a totalitarian era when serious music had to survive driven underground, like forbidden love.
      • premium: False
      • source: Alice Munro
      • content: A splendid writer.
      • premium: False
      • source: Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants
      • content: Imagination, Nabokov says, is a form of memory. Do Not Say We Have Nothing is a perfect example of how a writer's imagination keeps alive the memory of a country's and its people's past when the country itself tries to erase the history. With insight and compassion, Madeleine Thien presents a compelling tale of China of twentieth century.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from July 11, 2016
        In Thien's luminescent third novel (following Dogs at the Perimeter, which won the Frankfurt Book Fair's 2015 LiBeraturpreis), stories, music, and mathematics weave together to tell one family's tale within the unfolding of recent Chinese history. Beginning in 1989 in Hong Kong and Vancouver, this narrative snakes both forward and backward, describing how a pair of sisters survived land reform, re-education at the hands of the Communists, the coming of the Red Guard, the Cultural Revolution, and the protests at Tiananmen square. The story is partially told by the central character, mathematics professor Marie Jiang (Jiang Li-ling), as she discovers her late father's past as a pianist, which was left behind and concealed when he left China for Canada. Thien takes readers into the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, where Marie's father studied with composer Sparrow and violinist Zhuli in the midst of the cultural upheaval in the 1960s. Filled with intrigue, shifting loyalties, broken families, and unbroken resistance, this novel is beautifully poetic and as carefully constructed as the Bach sonatas that make frequent appearance in the text. Thien's reach—though epic —does not extend beyond her capacity, resulting in a lovely fugue of a book that meditates on fascism, resistance, and personhood. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, Wylie Agency.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from October 15, 2016
        Shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize, Thien's ambitious saga explores the upheavals in Chinese politics from 1949 to the present through several generations of friends, family, and lovers whose intersecting destinies are upturned by the sweep of events.In 1989, at the time of the Tiananmen Square uprising, Jiang Kai, a renowned concert pianist in China before he defected in the '70s, abandons his wife and 10-year-old daughter, Marie, in Vancouver to fly to Hong Kong, where he commits suicide. Soon afterward, Ai-ming, the 19-year-old daughter of Kai's former teacher at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, who was killed by authorities during the uprising, flees China and arrives in Vancouver. The girls soon bond reading the Book of Records, a never-seeming-to-end series of notebooks left among Kai's possessions and written in the handwriting of Ai-ming's father, Sparrow. The novel follows Marie as she unravels the mystery of her father's death, his life as a musician in China, and his relationship with Sparrow. She is guided by the notebooks, which narrate a parallel, fairy-tale version of events. But the heart of the story lies with Kai and Sparrow and their attempts to define themselves inside the rapidly shifting political climate that turns against artists and intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. Fear and pragmatism drive ambitious 17-year-old pianist Kai, who watched his family starve to death as a child in the 1959 famine; joining the Red Guard allows him to pursue his music within limits. Kai's teacher/friend/lover Sparrow, a composer of genius whose family is torn apart by party loyalties, wills himself into creative invisibility, choosing survival over art. Sparrow's cousin, the violinist Zhuli, whom both men love, refuses to join or hide, and her idealism destroys her. Through these and a host of other sharply rendered characters, Thien (Certainty, 2007) dissects China's social and political history while raising universal questions about creativity, loyalty, and identity. Mythic yet realistic, panoramic yet intimate, intellectual yet romantic--Thien has written a concerto dauntingly complex and deeply haunting.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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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...

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awards
      • source: The Booker Prize Foundation
      • value: Man Booker Prize for Fiction Nominee
      • source: Scotiabank Giller
      • value: Scotiabank Giller Prize
subtitle
A Novel
publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
bisacCodes
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      • description: FICTION / Historical / General
      • code: FIC019000
      • description: Fiction / Literary
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      • description: Fiction / Family Life / General