About this book
We Two Alone
A masterful collection of stories that dramatizes the Chinese diaspora across the globe over the past hundred years, We Two Alone is Jack Wang’s astonishing debut work of fiction.
Set on five continents and spanning nearly a century, We Two Alone traces the long arc and evolution of the Chinese immigrant experience. A young laundry boy risks his life to play organized hockey in Canada in the 1920s. A Canadian couple gets caught in the outbreak of violence in Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The consul general of China attempts to save lives following Kristallnacht in Vienna. A family aspires to buy a home in South Africa, during the rise 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 elite, the characters in this extraordinary collection embody the diversity of the diaspora at key moments in history and in contemporary times. Jack Wang has crafted deeply affecting stories that not only subvert expectations but contend with mortality and delicately draw out the intimacies and failings of love.
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. In 2014–15, he held the David T. K. Wong Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Stories in his debut collection, We Two Alone, have been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and longlisted for the Journey Prize, and have appeared in PRISM International, the Malahat Review, the New Quarterly, the Humber Literary Review, and Joyland. Originally from Vancouver, Jack Wang is an associate professor in the Department of Writing at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, where he lives with his wife, novelist Angelina Mirabella, and their two daughters.
Awards and Praise
PRAISE FOR JACK WANG AND WE TWO ALONE
A CBC Book of the Year
A Quill & Quire Book of the Year
“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
“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
“One of the best books I’ve read this year and one of my all-time favourite short-story collections.” — Sharon Bala, bestselling author of The Boat People
“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
“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
“A brilliant and ambitious vision of a hundred years of solitude: the Chinese diaspora navigated with courage, cleverness, and grace. Wang does this by following not a single family over generations but a dynamic cast of unforgettable characters as they scatter across the past century and across the globe, to Vancouver, Vienna, London, New York. For some, it’s a lonely journey; 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
“Rich and poignant … History lovers and literary buffs will sink joyfully into his moving collection … Wang manages to underscore the importance of cultural heritage while stressing humanity’s common ties … His ability to create vivid and believable settings, in beautiful and readable prose, will deeply move readers.” — Winnipeg Free Press
“In a debut short-story collection that spans a century and reads like a novel, Jack Wang offers international drama and retro Canadiana told through the eyes of people in the Chinese diaspora. From Kristallnacht in Vienna to apartheid in South Africa, Wang’s collection reminds us that history is never merely about the past.” — Quill & Quire
“Jack Wang is a welcome new voice in Canadian letters … [We Two Alone] is serious, engaging, well crafted, thought-provoking. Wang clearly has something to say, and this accomplished collection not only says it but also promises a great deal more to come.” — Ormsby Review
“Jack Wang’s extraordinary debut book of stories, We Two Alone, weaves a path across the world, following the Chinese diaspora over nearly a hundred years. It’s the kind of collection that comes along only once in a while, to be savoured by readers for its sharp, smart portraits of longing, connection, and identity.” — Open Book
PRAISE FOR JACK WANG
“Jack Wang’s ‘The Nature of Things’ pushes the limits of the short story by spanning generations and continents. The tale of two Chinese-Canadian lovers who travel to Shanghai and find themselves caught in the Second Sino-Japanese War is so epic in scope that it reads almost like a mini-novel. Wang employs rich imagery, lyrical language, and a wistful tone to evoke a tumultuous time and place in history.” — 2017 Journey Prize Anthology Judges Kevin Hardcastle, Grace O’Connell, and Ayelet Tsabari