One Minute Book Review – Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien


This is the book which, in my opinion, should have won the Man Booker Prize in 2016. The story begins in Canada in 1991 with the daughters of two musicians, Marie raised in Canada and Ai-Ming who has arrived from China in the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. The story weaves back and forth in time to tell the story of their two extended families of musicians caught up in the forces that reshaped China from the ascent of Mao through the Cultural Revolution to Tainanmen Square.  And intimate study of daily life in China during this period, it touches on themes of art and love and loyalty in the face of political upheavals as well the choices political, personal and artistic that are made to ensure survival both of the individual and of memory under a repressive regime.

Beautifully written, from the multiple view points, in prose that is lyrical and poignant with music at its centre. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Two detailed reviews can be found here and here.

One thought on “One Minute Book Review – Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

  1. Pingback: My Reading for 2016 | Catherine Merrick

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