I did not expect to adore this book as much as I do.
When reading the blurb it sounded interesting and I thought it would be a good read, if not slightly too political for me, but oh! How wrong I was!
This is a lyrical and fairy-tale like novel that mixes fact and fable with joyful ease.
The story is essentially a coming of age novel about the 11-year old Marie (Ma-li) growing up in Canada, dealing with the death of her father, protests and politics going on in China that she does not really understand and then a burgeoning relationship with a girl who turns into an adoptive sister, Ai-Ming.
Ai-Ming seeks help from Ma-li’s mother, since her father and Ma-li’s father used to know each other. Infact, Ai-Ming’s father tutored Ma’li’s father in the art of music and composition.
While you have this contemporary story going on in the 1990’s, Ai-Ming also provides a history of her family and it’s ties to Ma-li, going back 60 years. 60 years through the communist regime and all the heart-breaking things that people had to do to survive.
Even thought this deals with quite a heavy subject matter, I didn’t find it depressing but inspirational. Even when I read the story – it did not really feel like reading but more being swept along in a fairytale.
Thien has done a marvellous job of writing this book and it’s my favourite to win the Baileys Prize!
About Madeleine Thien
Madeleine Thien‘s novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 and won the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2016 and the Governor General’s Award 2016. She is also the author of the story collection Simple Recipes (2001) and the novels Certainty (2006) and Dogs at the Perimeter (Granta, 2012), which was shortlisted for Berlin’s 2014 International Literature Award and won the Frankfurt Book Fair’s 2015 LiBeraturpreis. Her books and stories have been translated into 23 languages. The daughter of Malaysian-Chinese immigrants to Canada, she lives in Montreal.
You can find out more about her here.
To find out more about the Bailey’s Prize click here.
Thanks for reading!