Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts by Jessica J. Lee
WINNER of the 2020 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize
WINNER of the 2021 Banff Mountain Book Prize in Adventure Travel
Shortlisted for Canada Reads 2021
One of The Globe and Mail’s “100 favourite books of 2020”
On CBC’s list of “the best Canadian nonfiction of 2020”
An exhilarating, anti-colonial reclamation of nature writing and memoir, rooted in the forests and flatlands of Taiwan from the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize for Emerging Writers
"Two Trees Make a Forest is a finely faceted meditation on memory, love, landscape--and finding a home in language. Its short, shining sections tilt yearningly toward one another; in form as well as content, this is a beautiful book about the distance between people and between places, and the means of their bridging." --Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland
A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she seeks his story while growing closer to the land he knew.
Lee hikes mountains home to Formosan flamecrests, birds found nowhere else on earth, and swims in a lake of drowned cedars. She bikes flatlands where spoonbills alight by fish farms, and learns about a tree whose fruit can float in the ocean for years, awaiting landfall. Throughout, Lee unearths surprising parallels between the natural and human stories that have shaped her family and their beloved island. Joyously attentive to the natural world, Lee also turns a critical gaze upon colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, relying on and often effacing the labor and knowledge of local communities.
Two Trees Make a Forest is a genre-shattering book encompassing history, travel, nature, and memoir, an extraordinary narrative showing how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories.