Madeleine Thien - Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Network of family and friends in China during the Cultural Revolution experience conflict, oppression, love. Some end up in Canada where the next generation meet. There is tragedy. It’s a really hard book to explain or plot to describe - parts feel very contemporary. Parts are pure historical fiction. The non-linear structure makes sense in some ways (the theme of no beginning/ no ending and the need to discover the secrets of the past), but it also masks occasional bits of sloppy and unstructured writing.

Story-wise, I really enjoyed the book. It was an absolutely perfect follow up to the Russian historical fiction I’ve been reading. Characters were great. But the tone was inconsistent and some of the descriptions as overly flowery, vague. There were moments that felt like work. 

I learned a lot about a topic of which I know little and was fascinated beginning to end. Other favourite bits: the emphasis on music and the reminder/ introduction to Glenn Gould, whom I am now listening to daily.