Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vancouver's Madeleine Thien 'Moved' to Receive Prestigious Man Booker Prize Nod

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vancouver's Madeleine Thien 'Moved' to Receive Prestigious Man Booker Prize Nod

Article excerpt

Vancouver author 'moved' by Man Booker Prize nod


TORONTO - Vancouver-born Madeleine Thien says she feels lucky and honoured to be among the novelists in contention for the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

Thien and Montreal-born David Szalay were among the 13 authors named to the long list for the lucrative British literary award on Wednesday.

"I was really moved. I still am really moved," said Thien, 42, in a phone interview from Vancouver.

"It's still settling in. It's still quite unexpected."

Previously open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth, the Booker expanded in 2014 to include all English-language authors. Despite fears of U.S. dominance, there has not yet been an American winner of the prize, which usually brings the victor a huge sales boost.

Hungary-based Szalay got the nod for "All That Man Is" (McClelland & Stewart.) The story is set in various European cities and offers a window into the lives of men at different stages in their lives, from their teens through old age.

Thien was recognized for "Do Not Say We Have Nothing" (Knopf Canada) set in China before, during and after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

The heart of the story involves three Chinese musicians who are studying Western classical music at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in the 1960s, said Thien. The novel explores the revolution that occurred under Mao Zedong and the many political campaigns that pulled apart people's lives, she added.

"I think at its heart it's about art and revolution and music as an expression of the personal self, and also a public self, and what happens when those two are in conflict."

Thien is based in Montreal and is the common-law partner of Canadian author Rawi Hage. She is the daughter of Malaysian-Chinese immigrants who relocated to Canada in the 1970s.

"My parents spoke different languages, but my mother chose English. So for me, English was a place of freedom. It was a place I could sort of find a sense of belonging, but also integrate the world my parents have given me. …

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