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Madeleine Thien

Madeleine Thien, a Vancouver native, was born to parents who are Malaysian-Chinese immigrants. She graduated from the University of British Columbia’s prestigious MFA program in creative writing. Thien received the Canadian Authors’ Association/Air Canada Award for most promising writer under the age of 30 in 2001, and previously won the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop Emerging Writer Award based on the manuscript for her short story collection Simple Recipes. She is a former editor of Ricepaper magazine.  Madeleine Thien received the 2010 Ovid Festival Prize for an international writer of promise.  Thien’s literary criticism and journalism has appeared in many Canadian and international publications.



Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2006.
PS8589 .H449 C47 2006

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its Spring 2006 catalog)

Gail Lim, a producer of radio documentaries in present-day Vancouver, finds herself haunted by events in her parents’ past in wartorn Asia, a past which remains a mystery that fiercely grips her imagination. …
Vivid, poignant, wise, at once sweeping and intimate, Certainty is a novel about the legacies of loss, about the dislocations of war and the redemptive qualities of love.

Awards and Honours

2006 in Canada First Novel Award (Winner)

Fiction (Juvenile)

The Chinese Violin

Illustrations by Joe Chang.
Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 2001.

Publisher’s Synopsis

When Lin Lin and her father move from China to Canada, it feels like nothing will ever by the same again. Learning a new language and making new friends seems impossible, but the gift of a Chinese violin helps to bridge the gap between old and new.

Chang’s illustrations are from his animated film produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing book cover


Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2016.
Popular reading colln
PS8589 .H449 D65 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Madeleine Thien’s new novel is breathtaking in scope and ambition even as it is hauntingly intimate. With the ease and skill of a master storyteller, Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations–those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the mid-twentieth century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in one of the most important political moments of the past century. With exquisite writing sharpened by a surprising vein of wit and sly humour, Thien has crafted unforgettable characters who are by turns flinty and headstrong, dreamy and tender, foolish and wise.

Awards and Honours

2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize (winner)
2016 Governor General’s Literary Award–Fiction, English (winner)
2016 Man Booker Prize (finalist)


Dogs at the Perimeter

Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2011.
PS8589 .H449 D64 2011

Publisher’s Synopsis

… a beautifully realized and deeply affecting novel about the multiple lives we carry within ourselves. Spare and haunting, intimate and profound, it is an unblinking portrait of loss and recovered humanity that confirms Madeleine Thien as one of the most exciting young novelists in Canada.

Awards and Honours

2011 Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction (Quebec Writers Federation)(Finalist)

Fiction (Short Stories)

Simple Recipes

Toronto: M&S, 2001.
Toronto: M&S, 2002. (Emblem Editions)
PS8589 .H449 S55 2002

Publisher’s Synopsis (M&S, 2002)

Longing, familiarity, and hope suffuse these stories as they mine the charged territory of relationships — subtly weaving in conflicts between generations and cultures. Thien’s characters in some way want to make amends, to understand the events that have shaped their lives.

Awards and Honours

2001 City of Vancouver Book Award (Winner)
2001 Commonwealth Book Prize –Best First Book–Caribbean and Canada Region (Nominated)
2001 Danuta Gleed Literary Award (Runner-up)
2001 Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize (Notable Book)
2002 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize (Winner)
2003 Golden Oak Award–Ontario Library Association (Nominated)

1998 The story “Simple Recipes” was first published in the journal Event. It was shortlisted for the 10th annual awarding of The Journey Prize. It appeared in The Journey Prize Anthology: The Best Short Fiction From Canada’s Literary Journals (Toronto: M&S, 1998).

Anthology (Fiction)

Aliens (London: Granta, 2011).  — (Granta: The Magazine of New Writing ; no. 114, winter 2011)

Thien, Madeleine.  “James.” Granta 114 (winter 2011): 159-184.

Book cover of Finding the Words

Anthology (Non-fiction)

Finding the Words: Writers on Inspiration, Desire, War, Celebrity, Exile, and Breaking the Rules

PS8373.1 .FR56 2011.

Thien, Madeleine.  “Photocopies of Photocopies: On Bao Ninh.” In Finding the Words: Writers on Inspiration, Desire, War, Celebrity, Exile, and Breaking the Rules, edited by Jared Bland.  Toronto: Emblem, 2011, 148-155.

Anthology (Non-fiction)

In the Flesh: Twenty Writers Explore the Body

PS8367 .B63 I5 2012

Thien, Madeleine . “The Tongue, From Childhood to Dotage.” In In the Flesh: Twenty Writers Explore the Body, edited by Kathy Page and Lynne Van Luven. Victoria: Brindle & Glass, 2012, 27-32.

Anthology (Non-fiction, Autobiographical)

V6A: Writing From Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

PS8257 .V35 V2 2012

Thien, Madeleine . “The Fire Before.” In V6A: Writing From Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, edited by John Mikhail Asfour and Elee Kraljii Gardiner. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2012, 24-31.

Anthology (Non-fiction)

Writing Life

PS8367 .A8 W75 2006

Thien, Madeleine . “After the Flood.” In Writing Life: Celebrated Canadian and International Authors on Writing and Life, edited by Constance Rooke. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2006, 391-400.

Closer to Home book cover


Closer to Home: The Author and the Author Portrait

TR681 .A85 B97 2008

Byrnes, Terence. “Madeleine Thien at a Westmount Home.” In Byrnes, Terence. Closer to Home: The Author and the Author Portrait. Montréal: Véhicule Press, 2008, 92-93..

Reading Writers Reading book cover


Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors’ Reflections

Z1039 .A87 R43 2006

Thien, Madeleine. “The Meeting Place.” In Reading Writers Reading: Canadian Authors’ Reflections. Danielle Schaub, photographer and ed. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2006, 46-47.

Selected Criticism and Interpretation

Cuder-Dominguez, Pilar. “Portraits of the Artist in Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For and Madeleine Thien’s Certainty.” Chap. in Crosstalk: Canadian and Global Imaginaries in Dialogue, eds. Diana Brydon and Marta Dvorák. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2012, 151-167.
PS8057.1 .C76 2012

Morris, Robyn. “Under Surveillance: Memory, Trauma, and Genocide in Madeleine Thien’s Dogs at the Perimeter.” Chap. in Canadian Literature and Cultural Memory, eds. Cynthia Sugars and Eleanor Ty. Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, 2014, 309-321.
PS8101 .H58 C35 2014

Schwab, Dana. “Troublesome Bodies and Lonely Voices: The Embodied Woman in Contemporary Canadian Short Fiction in English.” M.A. diss., University of New Brunswick, 2009.
Available from Proquest Dissertations and Theses


Madeleine Thien personal website

Publisher McClelland and Stewart

Publisher Penguin Random House Canada (owner of Knopf Canada imprint)

Canada Writes’ Brief Encounters Short Story Series (CBC, 2012) includes Thien’s “The Room at the Turn of the Corner.”

Website for Dogs at the Perimeter

Amnesty International book club selection for Dogs at the Perimeter (Jan. 2016)