22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Madeleine Thien

Portrait Madeleine Thien
© Ali Ghandtschi

Canadian writer Madeleine Thien was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1974, the year her Chinese-Malaysian family immigrated to Canada. Pursuing her childhood interest in ballet, Thien studied modern dance at Simon Fraser University. From 1994 on she was a student at the University of British Columbia, where she received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and completed her first book, a collection of short stories.
To date, Madeleine Thien has published a fiction collection, an illustrated children’s book and two novels. Among her main motifs are the trajectories of immigrants in Canada. In writing about their experiences she sometimes borrows from her own family history. Her debut »Simple Recipes« (2001), about the ruptures within immigrant families, brought her major acclaim in Canada, including four national literary awards, and was short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. In her children’s book »The Chinese Violin« (2002) she collaborated wtih animation artist, Joe Chang, to tell the moving story of Lin Lin, a Chinese girl who migrates to Canada together with her father. Her first novel »Certainty« (2006), which deals with the parallel lives of two figures who must cope with the painful loss of their great love, the past and their fear of the future, received international acclaim and has since been translated into sixteen languages. In a comment on the book, Thien explained that the seed of the novel lay in the execution of her grandfather after the end of the Japanese occupation of Malaysia during World War II.
At the ilb 2011, Madeleine Thien will present her latest novel »Dogs at the Perimeter« (2011) about a Canadian scientist who comes of age in Cambodia during the 1970s. In her search for a lost friend and mentor, the neurologist Hiroji Matsui, she returns to the buried history of her childhood under the Khmer Rouge. Thien’s literature is characterized by spare yet extremely sensitive language. Critics have stressed her empathy, and the clear and elegant style of her works. Madeleine Thien lives in Montreal, Canada.

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