Fiona and Jane (Hardcover)
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Decades-spanning friendships are challenging to provide snapshots of -- it's all just shorthand in the end -- but author Jean Chen Ho deftly intersperses chapters from different points in Fiona's and Jane's lives to provide a complicated and realistic portrait of a lifelong relationship.— From Emily recommends
A witty, warm, and irreverent book that traces the lives of two young Taiwanese American women as they navigate friendship, sexuality, identity, and heartbreak over two decades.
Best friends since second grade, Fiona Lin and Jane Shen explore the lonely freeways and seedy bars of Los Angeles together through their teenage years, surviving unfulfilling romantic encounters, and carrying with them the scars of their families' tumultuous pasts. Fiona was always destined to leave, her effortless beauty burnished by fierce ambition—qualities that Jane admired and feared in equal measure. When Fiona moves to New York and cares for a sick friend through a breakup with an opportunistic boyfriend, Jane remains in California and grieves her estranged father's sudden death, in the process alienating an overzealous girlfriend. Strained by distance and unintended betrayals, the women float in and out of each other's lives, their friendship both a beacon of home and a reminder of all they've lost.
In stories told in alternating voices, Jean Chen Ho's debut collection peels back the layers of female friendship—the intensity, resentment, and boundless love—to probe the beating hearts of young women coming to terms with themselves, and each other, in light of the insecurities and shame that holds them back.
Spanning countries and selves, Fiona and Jane is an intimate portrait of a friendship, a deep dive into the universal perplexities of being young and alive, and a bracingly honest account of two Asian women who dare to stake a claim on joy in a changing, contemporary America.
About the Author
Jean Chen Ho is a doctoral candidate in creative writing and literature at the University of Southern California, where she is a Dornsife Fellow in fiction. She has an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and her writing has been published in The Georgia Review, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, Guernica, The Rumpus, Apogee, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and others. She was born in Taiwan, grew up in Southern California, and lives in Los Angeles.
“If you're looking for a book about female friendship, look no further than Jean Chen Ho's Fiona and Jane, which details the complex relationship between two Taiwanese American women over the course of 20 years.”
“In this tender and timeless debut, Chen Ho explores the intimate facets of female friendship, Asian American immigrant experiences in Los Angeles and New York, and the debilitating power of family traumas.”
“Intimate. . . . Ho excels at creating characters whose struggles feel deeply human. This packs in plenty of insights about love and friendship.”
“Who knows you better: you or your best friend? . . . Ho’s adept captures of childhood confusion, teenage angst, and adult malaise lend the stories a universality that is not undermined by her equally precise dissections of racial and sexual issues facing Fiona and Jane. The misogynistic dangers facing the girls as they stretch their high school wings in the gorgeous and nerve-wracking story ‘Go Slow’ echo throughout the work as a whole, with a particularly resounding tone in the devastating precis, ‘Korean Boys I’ve Loved.’ Readers will wish for a Fiona or Jane in their own lives.”
“With Fiona and Jane, Jean Ho announces herself as a bold and provocative new talent to watch out for. In this sexy and stylish set of stories about friendship, love, loyalty, and betrayal, she fearlessly delves into the intimacies between women and delivers a knockout of a book.”
—Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer and The Committed
“Unsentimental, subtly subversive, and always surprising, Jean Chen Ho's beautiful debut Fiona and Jane glides me into revelations about the ambiguities of friendship, queer sexuality, and love. I rarely read portraits of friendships like that of Fiona and Jane, two flawed women who are each other’s constants throughout the crossroad in their lives. Jean Chen Ho is not afraid to give us a funny, unresolved and very real portrait of Asian Americans just getting by in LA and New York. I love this book.”
—Cathy Park Hong, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist Minor Feelings
"Loving and fierce, sharp and emotionally resonant, Fiona and Jane is not only the story of two best friends as they grow into adulthood—it’s a love letter to Asian American women’s friendship, in all of its most beautiful and heartbreaking iterations."
—Lisa Ko, author of National Book Award finalist The Leavers
"I loved every one of these vibrant, sharply-observed stories that explore the complexities of friendship, love, lust, youth and identity. Jean Chen Ho’s writing is spiky, surprising and funny, suffused with wit and sadness. On top of all that, she writes about southern California with specificity and insight, mapping corners of it that I haven't seen before in fiction. A striking debut from a very talented writer."
—Charles Yu, National Book Award-winning author of Interior Chinatown
"Fiona and Jane is the book I did not know I was waiting to be written—one that brilliantly examines what it feels like to be young and woman and hungry for a meaningful life right now. Via language that is tender, shot through with humor and undergirded with lyricism, Jean Chen Ho has created a universe of mothers, daughters, lovers and, vitally, friends who become sisters. Read this remarkable work of fiction and feel the world open up around you."
—Angela Flournoy, author of National Book Award finalist The Turner House
"Jean Chen Ho has created an iconic pair of friends who are messy and sexy and so thoroughly alive that I'm pretty sure we once snuck into a club together. Joyously specific and true, Fiona and Jane is my new favorite book."
—Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. the World
"In Fiona and Jane, Jean Chen Ho charts the emotional journey of young women brought together or torn apart by families, friends, or lovers. She writes with great beauty and sensitivity about moments in life when the unsaid or unsayable can no longer be held back and the truth gushes forth in all its rawness. This book is a treasure."
—Laila Lalami, author of National Book Award finalist The Other Americans
"Fiona and Jane is a high wire act of a collection, the stories born of the experiments in daring you feel around the friend you are sure will always be there. Amid the intricate fretwork of adhoc desires, missing family, and rehearsals for adulthood, a cool-handed nerve shapes it all—Jean Chen Ho's brilliant debut is as assured as what must surely follow."
—Alexander Chee, author of National Bestseller The Queen of the Night and How to Write an Autobiographical Novel