Longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award
A masterful and gripping novel from “an undeniably talented writer” — Globe and Mail
On a sunny May morning, social worker Jessica Campbell sorts through her mother’s belongings after her recent funeral. In the basement, she makes a shocking discovery — two dead girls curled into the bottom of her mother’s chest freezers. She remembers a pair of foster children who lived with the family in 1988: Casey and Jamie Cheng — troubled, beautiful, and wild teenaged sisters from Vancouver’s Chinatown. After six weeks, they disappeared; social workers, police officers, and Jessica herself assumed they had run away.
As Jessica learns more about Casey, Jamie, and their troubled immigrant Chinese parents, she also unearths dark stories about Donna, whom she had always thought of as the perfect mother. The complicated truths she uncovers force her to take stock of own life.
Moving between present and past, this riveting novel unflinchingly examines the myth of social heroism and traces the often-hidden fractures that divide our diverse cities.
About the author
Jen Sookfong Lee was born and raised on Vancouver's East Side, and she now lives with her son in North Burnaby. Her books include The Conjoined, nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award and a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; The Better Mother, a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award; The End of East; Gentlemen of the Shade; Chinese New Year and The Animals of Chinese New Year. Jen was a columnist for CBC Radio One's The Next Chapter for many years. She teaches at The Writer's Studio Online with Simon Fraser University, edits fiction for Wolsak & Wynn and co-hosts the literary podcast Can't Lit.
- Short-listed, Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
“With flawless writing and gothic imagination, Lee shows how a forgotten crime can reveal uncomfortable truths about family, class, and racism. The Conjoined is a fearless novel and a compulsive read.” — Emily Schultz author of The Blondes
“The mystery of how the girls died is not the book’s main focus, but this captivating novel still moves with the pace of a thriller as it deftly fills in the gaps in the lives of several people, each fractured by horrors of their very own, joined as one in betrayal, trauma, and uncertainty.” — Publishers Weekly
“Though the plot races along, I found depths to The Conjoined that moved me . . . This book is a gem of necessary truths.” — A Bookish Type
“Sookfong Lee is a gifted writer, telling a complicated story with depth and insight . . . The Conjoined is a quick, compelling read. But its characters and their stories will linger.” — Vancouver Sun
“This is a story about family relationships and how they can break and fail. It’s also about identity, suffering, broken social systems, and understanding how the past forms us. There’s a lot going on here, but these themes organically engage and shape one another.” — Falling Letters
Other titles by Jen Sookfong Lee
Good Mom on Paper
Writers on Creativity and Motherhood
The Shadow List
The Journey of Immigrants and Refugees
Chinese New Year
A Celebration for Everyone
Whatever Gets You Through
Twelve Survivors on Life after Sexual Assault
The Animals of Chinese New Year / 中国农历新年动物生肖
The Animals of Chinese New Year / 中国农历新年动物生肖 Read-Along
Gentlemen of the Shade
My Own Private Idaho