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Fiona and Jane (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Jean Chen Ho

The book, Fiona and Jane, created a huge stir in the publications business before it was released. The reviews were glowing and it was named one of the most anticipated books of 2022.

Jean Chen Ho was born in Taiwan. After growing up in Southern California, she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she received an MFA.

Currently she lives in Los Angeles and is a doctoral candidate in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California. She is a Dornsife Fellow in fiction at USC.

In Fiona and Jane, Ms. Ho presents, through a linked story collection*, the intertwined relationship of best friends Fiona Lin and Jane Shen. Since second grade, the two together have explored the lonely and seedy corners of Los Angeles. In their teenage years they ventured through seedy bars and over the twisted maze of the iconic SoCal freeways.

They survive romantic yet unfulfilling experiences and along the way they have supported each other. Over the years they survived the tumultuous family dramas that left scars that only each other can understand.

Fiona, with her natural elegant beauty, was easily the one to escape first. The brightness of her beauty was polished by her fierce ambition. It gave her an even brighter glow that was unavoidable.

Her sudden move to New York to care for a sick friend, Jane is left in SoCal to grieve alone after her estranged father suddenly dies. Jane’s grief over her father and Fiona’s departure alienates an overbearing girlfriend.

The two women go in and out of each other’s lives while their lifelong friendship is strained by the distance and unintentional betrayals. This new phase of their relationship is more difficult and their long standing friendship, while it’s a strength and anchor, it is also a constant reminder of what they had and what they’ve lost.

Over the arc of the linked story collection, their stories are told in alternating views and voices between the two women. Ms. Ho is able to skillfully peel back and reveal the various complicated layers between the two women that have been cultivated after decades of friendship.

They have shared intensity, unspoken resentments, and immense love between each other. They are trying to come to terms with each other, and within themselves, as they reveal the shames and insecurities that hold them back.

The stories span countries and is a stunning honest presentation of two Asian women who are invested in claiming their portion of happiness in an ever changing and challenging modern America.

Ms. Ho is the 2023 Mary Routt Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at Scripps College in Claremont, California. She has taught creative writing workshops and literature seminars at the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, University of California Los Angeles Extension and the University of Southern California.
Ms. Ho has been a Kundiman fellow. She’s participated as a writer-in-residence at several locations including Tin House, Hedgebrook, I-Park Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, The Mastheads, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and MacDowell.

In 2019-2020 she was the W.M. Keck and George and Areklene Cheng Research Fellow at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. At The Huntington she was tasked with working on an archival project focused on 19-century Los Angeles Chinatown gender and racial violence. (This is the subject of her next book project.) She is a board member at Kaya Press which focuses on independently publishing experimental writing from the Asian Pacific Islander population movement.

Ms. Ho’s writing, fiction and non-fiction, has been published in many magazines and reviews including GQ, The Rumpus, The Cut, Electric Literature, Guernica, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the Georgia Review.

*linked story collection: it can go by many names, including novel-in-stories, composite novel, short story sequence, and the short story cycle. These are stories that are complete and are good to read as a stand alone, but when joined a larger, more interrelated, whole story emerges.

The linked story collection has origins in 14th century works of Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron and Apuleius 2nd century work The Golden Ass.
Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge are contemporary examples of linked story collections. Occasionally we read a collection but it’s not announced on the cover or as part of the title. Nevertheless, readers can usually perceive the difference as the novel usually unfolds differently than a traditional one.

Ms. Ho has widely published her collections of short stories and humorous essays, non-fiction essays, and features and reviews. A few of the publications are some the stories about Fiona and Jane. In “Kenji’s Notebook” published in Electric Literature Fiona takes care of a very sick friend in New York. In “Clairvoyance” published in The Cut Fiona’s pregnant and Jane feels happy and weird about it. In “The Night Market” published in the Georgia Review we read about Jane visiting her father in Taipei and she sees a new side of him. In “Doppelgängers” published in Guernica is another story about Fiona where she is haunted all over New York by visions of a former lover.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Jean Chen Ho

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