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Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Jury Statement

Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing is an elegant, nuanced and perfectly realized novel that, fugue-like, presents the lives of individuals, collectives, and generations caught in the complexities of history. Tracing the intertwined lives of two families, moving from Revolutionary China to Canada, this ambitious work explores the persistence of past and the power of art, raising meaningful questions for our times.


Do Not Say We Have Nothing

By Madeleine Thien

  • Book Details
  • Published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada / Penguin Random House Canada; distributed by the publisher
  • ISBN: 978-0-345-81042-7
Madeleine Thein

Madeleine Thein

Photo: Babak Salari

Who is Madeleine Thien?

Madeleine Thien wins her first Governor General’s Literary Award in 2016 with Do Not Say We Have Nothing, which also won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was on the Man Booker shortlist. Her debut novel Certainty (2007) won the First Novel Award; and Dogs at the Perimeter (2011) won the Frankfurt Book Fair’s 2015 Liberaturpreis. Her short story collection Simple Recipes (2002) won the BC Book Prize for Fiction, and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Kiriyama Pacific Prize Notable Book. Madeleine Thien’s work has been translated into 25 languages, and her essays have appeared in numerous publications including The Guardian, the Financial Times and Al Jazeera. The daughter of Malaysian-Chinese immigrants, she was born in Vancouver and now lives in Montreal.