The Next Chapter·Dog-Eared Reads

Why Madeleine Thien keeps coming back to Hannah Arendt's Between Past and Future

The novelist on the book she loves to read again and again.
Madeleine Thien is a shorty story writer and novelist. (Penguin Classics/Babak Salari)

 Madeleine Thien is a Vancouver-born novelist whose breakout work, the novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. 

Thien keeps returning to the 1961 nonfiction book Between Past and Future by the late American political theorist Hannah Arendt. 

"The book I return to often is a nonfiction work by Hannah Arendt called Between Past and Future. It's a series of essays on thinking about political problems in the modern world. This includes political questions about how we place ourselves as we think through these larger struggles in our public and civic lives."

"It's a book that always profoundly moves me because of the deep commitment she shows to the act of thinking — and what the act of thinking means for how we choose to be or act in the world."

Thein's comments have been edited and condensed.