“This collection feels like treading water if water were love: you’re immersed in beauty and pain, both carving their memory into your body.
Across time and place, Wang whisks us into tales much deeper than they originally appear (a story about ice hockey is not about ice hockey) and into the lives of characters whose lives haven’t turned out quite the way they wished. He fleshes out the scenes, moments, and character studies within Chinese diaspora with such a fondness that the big themes of socioeconomic status, xenophobia, bullying, race, and ethnicity never overwhelm the minute details of his characters’ lives. Instead, their wholeness is a balm.
This is a book to savor, every small moment rippling toward the bigger picture.”
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 in when Shanghai is succumbs to violence during the Second Sino-Japanese War. A family struggles 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.