Do Not Say We Have Nothing - Madeleine Thien

Madeleine Thien

Do Not Say We Have Nothing
2016, 463 pages

Madeleine Thien’s epic novel spans seven decades and three generations. The story begins in the present day with Marie, a Chinese-Canadian mathematician trying to unravel the secrets around her father’s suicide in 1989 and the unexplained arrival of a young woman from China and her subsequent disappearance. The story takes the reader back in time through the generations and traces the lives of families and friends forced by members of the communist regime to renounce their past lives and identities, endure hardship and deny their love for Western music and the arts. There is no trust and anybody can be a traitor, even friends and family members.

Alice Munro says about Do Not Say We Have Nothing: ‘The book 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.’