Certainty

Certainty

A Novel

Book - 2007
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Madeleine Thien's stunning debut novel fulfills all her early promise and introduces a young novelist of vision, maturity, and style.

Gail Lim, a producer of radio documentaries in present-day Vancouver, finds herself haunted by events in her parents' past in wartorn Asia, a past which remains a mystery that fiercely grips her imagination.

As a child, Gail's father, Matthew Lim, wandered the Leila Road and the jungle fringe with his lovely Ani, a girl whose early bond with Matthew will affect his life always. As children, they found themselves together under the terrifying shadow of war in Japanese-occupied Sandakan, Malaysia. The war shatters their families and splits the two apart until years later, when they remeet only to be separated again. The legacy of their connection is later inherited by Matthew's wife, Clara, in unexpected ways.

Gail's journey to unravel the mystery of her parents' lives takes her to Amsterdam, where she meets the war photographer Sipke, who tells his story of Ani and their relationship, which began in Jakarta, a story that will bring Gail face to face with the complications in her own life and lead her closer to the truth.

Vivid, poignant, wise, at once sweeping and intimate, Certainty is a novel about the legacies of loss, about the dislocations of war and the redemptive qualities of love. Thien reveals herself as a novelist of rare and potent talent.


From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2007
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780771085291
9780316834995
0316834998
Branch Call Number: FIC Thie
Characteristics: 311 p. ; 22 cm

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spiderfelt_0
Jan 29, 2017

There are as many ways to grieve as there are ways to love and to lose someone. This story dips into lives starting in Japanese occupied Borneo, through modern day Vancouver and Friesland, the Netherlands, illuminating a little bit of the story with each shift in perspective. The author wove medicine, history, cryptography, and radio into the narrative seamlessly, as if these areas of specialty were within her ordinary body of knowledge.

s
Shabash
Nov 15, 2014

I read this book as part of the UBC Alumni Association's book club and was really excited to read something from a local author. Unfortunately, the book fell flat. I think it tried to be profound but failed.

WVMLBookClubTitles Jun 17, 2013

There is no certainty in this life; whether in times of war or in times of peace. Young Matthew finds his world turned upside down when his father is killed during the brutal occupation of Indonesia during WWII and then again years later in Vancouver when his own daughter dies unexpectedly. The story moves back and forth in time between the two generations through the eyes of the father, daughter and those they love. A haunting and poetic debut novel from the Canadian award winning author of Simple Recipes.

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gailygirl
Sep 15, 2007

When I began this novel I couldn't help thinking "pretentious" but I soon changed that thought to "profound." Brilliant also comes to mind. An absolute jewel of a novel - perfect for book clubs too.

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