Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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On tour: Madeleine Thien

Canadian author Madeleine Thien’s latest book Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Granta) chronicles the lives of a group of musicians in 20th-century China. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won Canada’s Governor General’s Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Thien will be a guest at Perth Writers Festival and Adelaide Writers’ Week in February.

What would you put on a shelf-talker for your latest book?

A novel about art and revolution, music and counterpoint, and the rise and fall of a single life in 20th-century China. Companion piece, J S Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

What are you reading right now?

About 40 to 50 fiction and nonfiction submissions per day for Granta, which for the first time is devoting an issue to new Canadian writing. I’m lucky enough to be guest-editing the issue with Québec writer and translator Catherine Leroux. I’m also reading Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook (HarperCollins), a lot of Italo Calvino, and some books about choreography and dance.

What are you planning to read next?

Han Kang’s Human Acts (Portobello).

Which book do you always recommend?

Cees Nooteboom’s All Souls Day (Pan Macmillan UK).

If you were a literary character you’d be …

A passerby in a Dickensian novel, a waiter in a restaurant, a winter coat folded over a chair.

What’s your favourite book adaptation (film, television or theatre)?

The film adaptation of Kazoo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (Faber).

What’s your favourite books website or blog?

The Hannah Arendt Centre has a weekly newsletter called Amor Mundi, which gathers essays and blog posts from across the internet. Amor Mundi, or love of the world, was a title that Arendt considered for The Human Condition, and for her ongoing work in trying to face the world—that which is without contempt, rejection or despair.

Hardback, paperback or digital?

Any form, including audio. I’ve always lived in a world of books.

Facebook or Twitter?


In 50 years’ time books will be …

Open before us, creating worlds in our imaginations.

(Photo credit: Babak Salari.)



Category: Features Reviews newsletter On tour