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Do Not Say We Have Nothing
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Archive: Other Books > Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien- 5 stars

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Tracy (tstan) | 1197 comments Oh, my goodness, I loved this book.
It was not an easy book to read, but it was so very worth it!
Set in China, this shows three generations trying to love, survive, and play classical music.
The oldest generation was there when Mao led the peasant revolution after WWII.
The middle generation was there when Mao encouraged students to form the Red Guard in the 60s, terrorizing each other and professors, and condemning whomever they wanted during the Cultural Revolution.
The younger generation was in Tiananmen Square when the Chinese government agreed to meet and listen, then rolled over people with tanks. This part was relevant to me because I was a college student in Iowa at the time, and I remember following that situation very closely.
There are mentions of classical music pieces peppered throughout the book, so I listened to classical while reading this, trying to add some of those pieces to my playlist. Not only did this enhance my experience of the book, reading this book helped me appreciate classical music more.
One example: The Cultural Revolution portion of the book was highly emotionally charged. As I was reading this section, a Shostakovich symphony was playing in entirety (the book happened to mention him a great deal in this section). The emotional rollercoaster I was on during this reading was expressed in the symphony, with the devastating part of the symphony coming with the devastating part of the section.
At that point, I got it. I understand the beauty of classical music more now than ever. I still love me some rock, blues, etc. But I appreciate the beauty and art of a symphony with a newfound ear.
One day, I plan to reread this book, using the pieces Ms. Thien mentions, at the correct point in the book, and see if it makes it even better. I tagged those pages- the book is a porcupine of sticky arrows.
This one is up for the Man Booker- I am rooting very strongly for it to win. It is unique, with beautiful, symphonic and lyrical language, flow, and an unforgettable family, united not always by blood, but certainly related due to the blood of political unrest.


message 2: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen | 1545 comments Yes!!


Booknblues | 5797 comments I so want to read this it has been on my radar since this spring when I first heard about it.


Tracy (tstan) | 1197 comments Booknblues wrote: "I so want to read this it has been on my radar since this spring when I first heard about it."
I think you would like this, as we seem to have similar tastes. It is an experience to read, and worth it!


Booknblues | 5797 comments so many books i want to read this year ...kitten on lap makes caps and punctuation impossible.


message 6: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7759 comments Ugh! You have now added two books to my TBR in one morning....


Tracy (tstan) | 1197 comments Nicole R wrote: "Ugh! You have now added two books to my TBR in one morning...."




Anita Pomerantz | 6438 comments Great to see another review with five stars for this one. Excited to get to it. I LOVE your idea of playing the music that is referenced, and I'm going to give that a try . . .


Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments Adding to my TBR!


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