Q

Madeleine Thien on her meaningful Governor General's Award win

The newly announced winner of the Governor General's Award for fiction speaks with us live on q.
It was announced today that Canadian author Madeleine Thien has won the Governor General's Award for fiction for her book, Do Not Say We Have Nothing. (Babak Salari/Penguin Random House Canada)

Madeleine Thien is enjoying a celebratory glass of champagne in the office of her UK publisher, Granta Books, as she speaks to Tom Power live. 

The bubbly is well-earned: Thien has just been announced as the winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction for her novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

"I immediately burst into tears which I didn't expect," she reveals. "It's very meaningful for Canadian writers." 

This is Thien's fourth book and 15 years into her career, she admits that she has never felt this kind of reception before. But, she adds, "There's no downside that I've seen — I've been looking for one!" 

With the Man Booker Prize being announced later today and the Scotiabank Giller Prize next month, Thien's ride isn't over just yet. How does one prepare for such big things on the horizon?

"You don't!" she laughs. "You're just amazed that this little light has shone on your book. It's a beautiful moment...I'm proud of the book, I believe in the book." 

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