Do Not Say We Have Nothing
In 1990, ten-year-old Marie and her mother take in a young woman fleeing the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. Her name is Ai-ming. She brings stories of her family under Chairman Mao, and of revolutionary idealism, music and silence: stories which span the course of China’s recent turbulent history, and have deep and lasting consequences for Ai-ming – and for Marie.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
Moving novel about the Cultural Revolution in China. The story of musicians who were persecuted for the music they loved.
A multi-layered literary novel that speaks to the universal questions of fate, love, and passions. A magical combination of pacing, setting, rich characters and masterful storytelling. This novel succeeds at appealing to readers of all types.
Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing is a gorgeously written, compelling epic following a closely connected group of characters through seventy years of hardship and oppression in 20th century China and Canada. Classical music, the passion binding three central characters, is skilfully woven through the story as it moves back and forth through different time periods.
Thien’s concerto of a novel explores the upheavals in Chinese history from 1949 to the present through several generations of friends, family, and lovers whose intersecting destinies are torn apart by the sweep of events. Thien has written an immersive, brilliant, complex, and deeply haunting dissection of Chinese social and political history while raising universal questions about art, loyalty, and identity.
In 1991, Ai-Ming, a post Tienanmen Square exile, is invited into the home of a young Vancouver girl named Marie. Over the course of their friendship, Ai-Ming shares the story of her life. What emerges is a tale of complicity, resistance and betrayal. What fascinates the reader is the intimate and human scale of the novel. In lesser hands, the characters may well have become lost in the novel’s historical sweep which encompasses the modern history of China from the Cultural Revolution to the Pro-Democracy Movement. An intimate, complex, and engaging piece of fiction.
A very powerful story which covers events such as the Cultural Revolution and the transition from Chairman Mao to successive leaders from the 1950s to the present day. A family story spanning three generations with a central theme of music. Bitter sweet but well written and well told. Several reading groups have commented on this title, their enjoyment of reading and the storyline and awarded five stars.
This novel incorporates a multi-layered story into a single tapestry. It is epic in it’s aspiration and inspiration and the language is lyrical and emotive.