Praised as “utterly remarkable” and “deeply resonant” by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Viet Thanh Nguyen and Robert Olen Butler, a bold and brilliant debut collection, in the vein of The Refugees, which dramatizes the Chinese diaspora across the globe over the past hundred years.
Set on five continents and spanning decades, We Two Alone traces the arc and evolution of the Chinese immigrant experience. A young laundry boy risks his life, pretending to be a girl to play organized hockey in Canada in the 1920s. A Canadian couple is caught when Shanghai succumbs to violence during the Second Sino-Japanese War. A family sttempts to buy a home in South Africa in the early years of apartheid. An actor in New York struggles to keep his career alive while yearning to reconcile with his estranged wife.
From the vulnerable and disenfranchised to the educated and privileged, the characters in this extraordinary collection embody the diversity of the Chinese diaspora past and present. In these deeply affecting stories, Jack Wang subverts expectations as he captures the hope, pain, and sacrifices of the millions who journey into the unknown to create better lives, and explores the shifting boundaries of morality, the intimacies and failings of love, and the choices circumstances force us to make.
About the Author
Jack Wang received a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto, an M.F.A. from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in English with an emphasis in creative writing from Florida State University. For the 2014 academic year, he held the David T. K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. His work has appeared in Prism International, the Malahat Review, the New Quarterly, the Humber Literary Review, and Joyland. Originally from Vancouver, Wang is an associate professor in the Department of Writing at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, where he lives with his wife, the novelist Angelina Mirabella, and their two daughters.
"These moving stories are both global and intimate as they span the continents where the Chinese diaspora has settled. With ingenuity and impeccable craft, Jack Wang gives us an utterly remarkable collection that zeroes in on the emotional texture of utterly unique lives.” — Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sympathizer
“Jack Wang’s We Two Alone is not only a penetrating examination of the Chinese diaspora, it also brilliantly renders its subject in the most deeply resonant universal way, as the yearning for personal identity that drives us all in our shared humanity. This is a remarkable collection of stories, a remarkable work of art.”
— Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“Jack Wang’s dazzling first collection of stories, We Two Alone, moves through decades and across continents with rare ease, telling not the story but some of the many stories of the Chinese diaspora in the last century. These stories are so elegantly shaped, so satisfying as individual stories, that their collective power sneaks up on you. There is a quiet and building intensity to the storytelling here, a commitment to chronicling — with deep compassion and a refusal of easy answers — the dignity of human experience against the broader indignities of history. I was moved, heartbroken, and thrilled.” — Emily Fridlund, author of the Booker Prize finalist History of Wolves
“This impressive and vibrant collection of stories takes the reader by the hand, leading us across the world and back in time. But they’re all unified by the gentle sensitivity of Jack Wang’s prose and his ability to inhabit characters who long for freedom, connection, and fulfillment. Deeply humane and beautifully wrought, these stories stay in the heart and the mind.” — Alix Ohlin, author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize finalists Dual Citizens and Inside
“A brilliant and ambitious vision of a hundred years of solitude: the Chinese diaspora navigated with courage, cleverness, and grace...As Frank O’Connor said, in the best short stories we find ‘an intense awareness of human loneliness.’ But these characters cross continents and oceans to free themselves from history and from their own ‘tiny flames,’ seeking peace, work, adventure, fame, and, above all, love. This is a delicately wrought and deeply moving book from an exceptional new voice.” — Eleanor Henderson, author of The Twelve-Mile Straight and Ten Thousand Saints
"The seven impeccable stories in Jack Wang's excellent debut collection feature a diasporic Chinese cast over decades and across continents....Wang writes with masterful assurance, eschewing labels, and creating exquisite gems of universal empathy." — Shelf Awareness, starred
"Wang has the distinct skill of evoking time and place, many eras, many places, and putting his characters, and the reader in them. For this, for his erudition, for his poetic prose, readers of short fiction should search out any short story he writes." — New York Journal of Books
"Wang’s elegant debut delves into the heterogeneity of the Chinese diaspora in stories that take the reader to settings as disparate as 1920s Canada and Nazi-occupied Vienna....Wang’s prose is subtle and economical, well suited to his themes of disappointment, alienation, and departure. As the stories build on one another, they create a portrait full of both nuance and grace." — Publishers Weekly