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Writing Tips

Madeleine Thien: Strangeness and belonging

A powerful and poetic writing tip from the author of Dogs at the Perimeter.



Mark Kingwell's advice on writing, 'I am human: nothing human is strange to me,' is something I would like to steal and say: Yes, this, too, is what I believe. 

I have always been shy of giving tips on writing. Prose and poetry are multi-headed and chameleonesque, and every great story is, for me, a permutation and a mutation. But, to add to the quote above, can we make writing that is neither afraid of ourselves nor of those around us, that has range and imagination, and that has integrity? Give us something that is strange, but that also belongs to us. Compel us, make us see things we did not have the capacity to see before."
Madeleine Thien is the author of three books of fiction, including her most recent novel, Dogs at the Perimeter. Her fiction and essays have appeared in Granta, PEN America, The Walrus, Five Dials, Brick, New American City, and the Asia Literary Review, and her work has been translated into more than sixteen languages. 

Photo credit: Rawi Hage

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