Publication date: January 4, 2022
Hardcover: 288 Pages
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
“Over the course of the book Fiona and Jane become real and electric and precious people. The stories move through intimate, cinematic scenes. . . . The world Ho creates between the two women feels like one friend reading the other’s story, wishing she were there. . . . [E]ven to those not from Los Angeles, Ho’s debut collection feels like a shared experience.”—Tammy Tarng, The New York Times Book Review
“This debut collection navigates the intimate contours of female friendship through the eponymous women, Fiona and Jane, who grow up together in Los Angeles and drift apart when Fiona moves to New York.”—Oprah Daily, “The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2022”
“Jean Chen Ho’s debut collection . . . evokes a distinctive multi-ethnic Asian American experience coming of age in Los Angeles in the late 20th century: R&B mixtapes, Cool Water cologne, red faces drunk on soju. . . . Through shifting perspectives and evocative milieus (from night markets to seedy Korean bars and exclusive clubs), the assemblage comes as close to a primer on modern L.A. Asian American rites of passage as anything in recent memory.”—Lisa Wong Macabasco, Vogue
“Ho’s strong debut follows two Taiwanese American besties from grade school through their 30s, flipping through decades to highlight key relationships, crises, nights of drinking and sex. Other people, the world and the girls themselves change, but the friendship between beautiful Fiona and sturdy Jane endures.”—People
“Fiona and Jane is a refreshingly honest treatment of long-term friendships — particularly their inexorable ebb and flow. Story by story, the book captures the way friendships negotiate their own boundaries, at times dissolving unexpectedly and at others flourishing into something more, even if just fleetingly.”—Meena Venkataramanan, The Los Angeles Times
“Intricately rendered. . . . Fiona and Jane celebrates a woman’s ability to be late, to show up in their own lives when and where they want to, to change their minds, to be lonely and to be in love, and to be respected regardless.”—Rosa Boshier, The Washington Post
“Ho renders both women so real that they begin to feel like people you’ve encountered and hung out with. . . . Its precisely the fact that the women’s trials and tribulations feel refreshingly life-sized that makes the book ring so beautifully, sometimes terribly, true.”—Ilana Masad, NPR.org