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Madeleine Thien  [ Canada ]

Biography

Portrait Thien
Copyright Thien / C. Luchterhand Literaturverlag

Guest 2011, 2017.

Bibliography

The Chinese Violin

[Ill. Joe Chang]

Whitecap Books

Vancouver, 2002

Jene Sehnsucht nach Gewissheit

Luchterhand

München, 2007

[Ü: Almuth Carstens]

Einfache Rezepte

Luchterhand

München, 2008

[Ü: Almuth Carstens]

Flüchtige Seelen

Luchterhand

München, 2014

[Ü: Almuth Carstens]

Sag nicht, wir hätten gar nichts

Luchterhand

München, 2017

[Ü: Anette Grube]

Canadian writer Madeleine Thien was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1974, the year her Chinese-Malaysian family immigrated to Canada. Pursuing her childhood interest in ballet, Thien studied modern dance at Simon Fraser University. In 1994 she enrolled at the University of British Columbia, where she studied English and Creative Writing.

Among Thien’s motifs are class and race, and the trajectories of 20th century histories, from Cambodia and China to Canada, and consequent migrations. In writing about divergent lives she sometimes, though rarely, borrows from her own family history. Typical of Thien’s work is her matter-of-fact yet highly sensitive language. Critics find her writing style to be marked by exceptional empathy, clarity and elegance. Her debut »Simple Recipes« (2001), about the ruptures within families, brought her major acclaim in Canada, including four national literary awards, and a nomination for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and was translated into several languages. For her children’s book »The Chinese Violin« (2002), she collaborated with animation artist Joe Chang, to tell the moving story of Lin Lin, a Chinese girl who migrates to Canada together with her father. Thien’s first novel »Certainty« (2006) deals with the parallel lives of two figures who must cope with the painful loss of their great love, process their past, and address their fear of the future. According to the author, the seed of the novel lay in the execution of her grandfather after the end of the Japanese occupation of British North Borneo during World War II. Her novel »Dogs at the Perimeter« (2011), which won the LiBeraturpreis, tells of a Canadian scientist whose family was torn apart under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during the 1970s. In her search for a lost friend and mentor, the neurologist Hiroji Matsui, she allows herself to remember and reconstruct her own survival, and the love and guilt that shape her present life. Thien’s latest novel, »Do Not Say We Have Nothing« (2016), reconstructs the time before, during and after the Tiananmen Square Massacre through the story of three Chinese musicians devoted to Western classical music. The book received the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Madeleine Thien lives in Montreal, Canada.

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