© Foto M. Thien: Privat / Foto R. Hage: Babak Salari

Montreal, Canada


Samuel Fischer Guest Professors

Madeleine Thien & Rawi Hage

The Canadian writer couple Madeleine Thien and Rawi Hage were jointly teaching at Freie Universität in the summer semester 2019.

Madeleine Thien, whose parents came from Malaysia and China, respectively, and emigrated to Canada in the 1960s, was born in Vancouver. Her diverse oeuvre includes three novels, a volume of short stories, a children’s book, and numerous essays. Central to her writing is the question of how one can retell one’s own and shared history against the background of migration, trauma, and the search for identity and belonging. Thien studied dance at Simon Fraser University and holds a Master’s degree in Fine Arts and Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Her work has been translated into more than 25 languages and has won Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes and numerous other awards. Thien has taught literature and creative writing in Canada, China, Germany, Nigeria, USA, Zimbabwe, Singapore and Japan.

„Of all the people he had loved and who had loved him, of all the things that he had witnessed, lived and hoped for, of all the music he had created, how much was it possible to see?”

Madeleine Thien, Do not Say we Have Nothing

Rawi Hage was born in Beirut and grew up in Lebanon and Cyprus. His work includes three novels and a variety of literary, artistic and journalistic forms that deal with issues of homelessness, exile and the consequences of war. His debut novel De Niro’s Game from 2006 about the war-torn Beirut of the 80s won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. After nine years of civil war in Lebanon, Hage emigrated to New York in the 1980s and worked for several years as a laborer, waiter and taxi driver. When he discovered photography, he moved to Montreal to study photography and fine arts at Dawson College, Concordia University.

„Where are those seekers of dryness, those god-fearing souls fleeing the apocalyptic floods, where are the wetted-carcasses desperate for shelter and ships? I’ve been driving for an hour and not one soul has entered my car.”

Rawi Hage, Carnival

Reading in the Canadian Embassy

The Canadian writer Madeleine Thien and the Canadian-Lebanese author Rawi Hage held a joint Samuel Fischer Guest Professorship at Freie Universität Berlin in summer semester 2019. With their award-winning works, they are among Canada’s best-known authors. Both deal in different ways with the consequences of war, migration, exile, and the search for identity. The question is always to what extent literature can rewrite history.

Seminar: „Insinuation and Double Exposure: Appropriation as Literary Response“

In their seminar the two of them dealt with literature against the background of a new questioning of history and the retelling of their own existence. The seminar took place on Wednesdays from 14:00 to 16:00 in English at Peter Szondi-Institut für Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft.