“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos (no less) and we can accomplish this only by the most vigilant exercise of choice, but in a world that changes more swiftly than we can perceive there is always the danger that our powers of selection will be mistaken and that the vision we serve will come to nothing” (pg 429).
“I opened my eyes and watched the droplets of water fly up like sparks from a fire. I would have happily remained there for the rest of the afternoon, but I was conscious of my duty to the livestock. I allowed the sun to dry my skin, before dressing and setting off down the hillside” (pg 31).
“The continual afternoon rain made the pine windbreak dark and heavy. He couldn’t hear the waves at all. There was no wind, just the rain falling straight down from the sky. A flock of black birds flew by in the rain. The hearts of those birds were dark, and wet, too. The inside of the room was also wet. Everything there, pillows, books, desk, was damp. But oblivious to it all—to the weather, the damp, the wind, the sound of the waves—his father continued in an uninterrupted coma. Like a merciful cloak, paralysis enveloped his body. After a short break Tengo went back to reading aloud. In the damp, narrow room, that was all he was able to do…
“Things cultivated over such a long time don’t just vanish into nothingness” (pg 779).
A “Book of Records” (or shī shū, the Book of Songs and the Book of History, see p 187) sounds odd to call Madeleine Thien’s long awaited criticism on her family history, on her culture, and on her heritage, but Do Not Say We Have Nothing incorporates a bit of everything from Madeleine’s life: she was born in Canada while her mother is a Hong Kong Chinese and her father is a Malaysian Chinese. In the book, Canada, Hong Kong, and China are the main settings while time crosses several generations in a story where two young girls must deal with tragedy and loss.
“The painting that had impressed them, entitled Say Hello to My Little Friend, was an acrylic rendering of a marmoset doing cocaine. In the painting the small primate hunched on a coffee table in front of a pile of white powder, some of which it had been divided into lines. The animal clasped a razor blade in its little hand. Its head was tilted back, its snout was dusted with powder, and its gaping mouth exposed two needle-like lower incisors” (pgs 65-67).
“On some subjects—for instance, writers’ workshops—one is tempted to pull punches or rest satisfied with oversimplified answers; but I’m assuming, as the primary reader of this book, an intensely serious beginning novelist who wants the strict truth (as I perceive it) for his life’s sake, so that he can plan his days of technique, theory, and attitude; and become as quickly and efficiently as possible a master of his craft” (p xxii).
“The iron horse still rumbled through the tunnel when she woke. Lumbly’s words returned to her: If you want to see what this nation is all about, you have to ride the rails. Look outside as you speed through, and you’ll find the true face of America. It was a joke, then, from the start. There was only darkness outside the windows on her journeys, and only ever would be darkness” (pgs. 262-263).
We are, however, all too familiar with the penchant judges and editors have for writers located in the coastal regions of the United States. From the list, the affiliated universities relating to the winners’ education and/or employment were found to be primarily located in the eastern coastal region of the United States: namely the New England Region and the Eastern Coastal Region which had an incredible 92 associated wins, the bulk of those coming from institutions in the state of New York (thought provoking); California, on the west coast, had an accredited 7 wins. Predictably and regrettably, since New York State and its institutions had the most associated wins by far for any state or region, the Pulitzer Prize in Novel/Fiction becomes, without question, the least diverse of all the book awards inside the United States of America.
“The first basic truth is that Soul, the real you,” explains McLendon, “is eternally happy. Soul is joyous in the knowledge that its Creator loves it. Your prime duty here on earth is to reflect that love in your present life. Soul lacks nothing. Soul is complete. When your vibrations are in harmony with Spirit, love and well-being are magnetically drawn to act through you. You become a conduit for expansion… You must intentionally become what you desire” (pgs 32-33).
“It’s not even accurate to call it the past, for the events related in these pages didn’t occur in the past. The details that have been preserved are already abundant. Sealed in floating bottles, they will hopefully reach the new universe and endure there” (p 11).