Madeleine Thien Quotes
“He'd been thinking about the quality of sunshine, that is, how daylight wipes away the stars and the planets, making them invisible to human eyes. If one needed the darkness in order to see the heavens, might daylight be a form of blindness? Could it be that sound was also a form of deafness? If so, what was silence?”
“What was a zero anyway? A zero signified nothing, all it did was tell you nothing about nothing. Still, wasn't zero also something meaningful, a number in and of itself? In jianpu notation, zero indicated a caesura, a pause or rest of indeterminate length. Did time that went uncounted, unrecorded, still qualify as time? If zero was both everything and nothing, did an empty life have exactly the same weight as a full life? Was zero like the desert, both finite and infinite?”
“I assumed,” Ai-ming told me, “that when Big Mother’s stories finished, life would continue and I would go back to being myself. But it wasn’t true. The stories got longer and longer, and I got smaller and smaller. When I told my grandmother this, she laughed her head off. She said, ‘But that’s how the world is, isn’t it? Or did you think you were bigger than the world?”
“Light from the tanks found him, as if they could collect all the irreconcilable parts of his life. No matter how many lights they shone, they could never take away the darkness. Daylight was blinding, but in the dark he still existed. What did they see, he wondered, his hands still open. Of all the people he had loved and who had loved him, of all the things that he had witnessed, lived and hoped for, of all the music he had created, how much was it possible to see?”
“I promise you that for all our life together, I will seek worlds that we might never have encountered in our singularity and our solitude. I will shelter our family. I will share your tears. I will bind my happiness to yours. Our country is about to be born. Let us, too, have the chance to begin again.”
“Was there anyone in this world who could taste something delicious-economic freedom and political reform-a taste that was salty and fattening and sweet and promising, and only be satisfied with one mouthful? Who would wait patiently for nearly a billion people to also have a taste? No, anyone would try to get a second mouthful, a third, a whole bowl for themselves.”
“The things you experience are written on your cells as memories and patterns, which are reprinted again on the next generation. And even if you never lift a shovel or plant a cabbage, every day of your life something is written upon you. And when you die, the entirety of that written record returns to the earth. All we have on this earth, all we are, is a record. Maybe the only things that persist are not the evildoers and demons (though, admittedly, they do have a certain longevity) but copies of things. The original has long since passed away from this universe, but on and on we copy.”
“But for anything to be alive, it required motion : the current must run, the record must turn, a person must leave or find another path. Without movement or change, the world became nothing more than a stale copy, and this was the trouble with Ba's elegant calligraphy, his patient life, it was frozen in time.”
- Date of birth: January 01, 1974
- Born: in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
- Description: Madeleine Thien was born in Vancouver. She is the author of the story collection Simple Recipes (2001), and three novels, Certainty (2006); Dogs at the Perimeter (2011), shortlisted for Berlin’s International Literature Prize and winner of the Frankfurt Book Fair’s 2015 Liberaturpreis; and Do Not Say We Have Nothing (2016), about musicians studying Western classical music at the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s, and about the legacy of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. Her books and stories are published in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, and have been translated into 25 languages.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing won the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the 2016 Governor-General’s Literary Award for Fiction, and an Edward Stanford Prize; and was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, and The Folio Prize 2017. The novel was named a New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2016 and longlisted for a Carnegie Medal.