Reviewed by James, Mona Vale
Do Not Say We Have Nothing is a modern masterpiece. Very little I have ever read has stayed with me like this book has.
Spanning the course of decades and generations, this epic of modern Chinese history tracks the lives and loves of a musical family, who live for their art, as they attempt to survive the repeated horrors and disasters of the Chinese Civil War, Great Leap Forward and Tiananmen Square.
Matters of intimacy, cruelty, music, revolution and silence are all handled deftly and delicately through Thien’s equally meticulous research and prose that allows for a truly human connection to her characters in the midst of their inhuman trials.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing is one of only a very select few books to make me cry; and it had me bawling at that. It also inspired me to listen to the classical composers and works that shaped many of the characters in an attempt to understand the characters and work itself just that little bit more. Sombre and beautiful both, this book is a must read.