When Maya Angelou was eight, a lady took her to the local black school library. The shelves held some 300 books, ragged copies donated from the white school and rebound with shingles covered in pretty cloth. “I want you to read every book,” the lady said.
“I don’t say I understood those books, but I read every book, and each time I would go to the library, I felt safe.”
Madeleine Thien’s Giller- and GG-winning novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing
, is set partly in China in the culturally turbulent years after the Second World War. Two sisters, Swirl and Big Mother Knife, are story-tellers who travel the country performing story cycles. “Stories, even in times like these, were a refuge, a passport, everywhere.”