Publisher: Vintage Canada
In her stunning debut novel about a woman's journey to unravel the mystery of her parents' lives, Madeleine Thien proves herself a writer of vision, maturity, and style.

follows Gail Lim, a producer of radio documentaries in Vancouver, as she works to uncover the history of her parents' relationship and struggles to come to terms with the events that brought them together. Gail's search for the truth leads her to Amsterdam where she meets a war photographer named Sipke, who tells her the story of a woman named Ani--and in so doing, reveals valuable information that not only sheds further light on Gail's parents, but also brings Gail face to face with the complications in her own life and closer to unraveling the questions that have gripped her imagination.
     With a voice at once vivid and poignant, Thien crafts a story that explores the legacies of loss, the dislocations of war, and the redemptive qualities of love.


In what was to have been the future, Ansel rolled towards her, half awake, half forgetful. He curved his body around hers and Gail’s warmth drew him back into sleep. Morning passed into afternoon, the rest of the world waited outside, but he and Gail were just rising from bed, they were fumbling into their clothes,...
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1. When Certainty begins, its heroine is dead. Why do you think Madeleine Thien made that decision? Other than the flashbacks, how does she keep Gail “alive” for the reader? How would it change the book’s import if Gail were truly alive?

2. Matthew tells Ani that he longs for a life...

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Praise for Certainty:
"I am astonished by the clarity and ease of the writing, and a kind of emotional purity." Alice Munro
"A moving, richly textured and immaculately nuanced study of war, grief, displacement, love, renewal." Montreal Review of Books
"A thing of simple beauty. . . . A wise and thoughtful debut." Winnipeg Free Press
"The austere grace and polished assurance of her prose [is] remarkable." The New York Times Book Review