This “stunning journey through a country that is home to exhilarating natural wonders, and a scarring colonial past . . . makes breathtakingly clear the connection between nature and humanity, and offers a singular portrait of the complexities inherent to our ideas of identity, family, and love” (Refinery29).
Winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature. A Canada Reads finalist for 2021. A New Statesman Book of the Year and one of The Observer’s Best Books of 2019. One of Cosmopolitan’s Best Non-Fiction Books of 2020.
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 Forestis a genre–shattering book encompassing history, travel, nature, and memoir, an extraordinary narrative showing how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories.
Paperback, 204 pages
Jessica J. Lee is a British-Canadian-Taiwanese author, environmental historian, and winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature, and the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award. She is the author of two books of nature writing: Turning (2017) and Two Trees Make a Forest (2019), which was shortlisted for Canada Reads 2021. She has a PhD in Environmental History and Aesthetics and was Writer-in-Residence at the Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology in Berlin from 2017–2018. Jessica is the founding editor of The Willowherb Review and a researcher at the University of Cambridge.