Two Trees Make a Forest, by Jessica J. Lee

Staff Pick

A dual citizen of Britain and Canada and now a resident of Berlin, Lee is descended from mainland Chinese who were exiled to Taiwan and then relocated to Ontario where her fighter-pilot grandfather mopped floors in a factory. Her deeply reflective memoir combines cultural and political history as well as travel and, perhaps most of all, astute and heartfelt nature writing, for a moving inquiry into “what ought to be simple: articulating who we are.” Who, exactly, is Lee, as the heir to multiple displacements and their attendant losses and gains? The narrative centers on her relationship to Taiwan, a place she knows primarily from her mother’s memories. Compelled by “a longing to remember the things I hadn’t known,” Lee makes repeated visits to the island, exploring it through extensive hikes, linguistic research, and reconstruction of her family’s experiences, including a reunion with forgotten relatives. Throughout, Lee balances the often painful personal discoveries with fascinating details of Taiwan’s natural environment—especially its once magnificent false cypress forests—its cartographic history, and its precarious position along two tectonic plates which has endowed it with more than forty active fault lines. 

Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts By Jessica J. Lee Cover Image
ISBN: 9781646220007
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Catapult - August 4th, 2020