Book details

Publication date: October 2022
Series: Robert Kroetsch Series
Keywords: friendship; dating; growing up; international travel; small town; living abroad; marriage; mother; daughter; swimmers; shorelines; art; climate crisis; literary fiction; linked; psychological; transformation; feminist; women writers; book club; gift
Subject(s): FICTION / Short Stories (single author), Creative Writing, Creative Writing / Short Fiction, FICTION / Literary, FICTION / Women, FICTION / World Literature / Canada / 21st Century, FICTION / Coming of Age, Modern and contemporary fiction, Narrative theme: Love and relationships, Narrative theme: Coming of age, Short stories, Literature, Short Stories, Literature / Short Stories, friendship; dating; growing up; international travel; small town; living abroad; marriage; mother; daughter; swimmers; shorelines; art; climate crisis; literary fiction; linked; psychological; transformation; feminist; women writers; book club; gift
Publisher(s): The University of Alberta Press

Kasia Van Schaik. Kasia Van Schaik is a South African-Canadian writer, teacher, and literary critic living in Montreal/Tiohtià:ke. She holds a PhD in Literature and teaches Creative Writing at McGill University. We Have Never Lived on Earth, a linked story collection that explores what it means to come of age in the era of environmental collapse, is her first book of fiction. It was shortlisted for the Concordia University First Book Prize. Kasia received the Mona Adilman Prize for poetry related to ecological concerns, the Peterson Memorial Fiction Prize, and the Quebec Federation’s Short Story Prize. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Sea Burial Laws According to Country. Her writing has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry Anthology, Electric Literature, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, PRISM International and more.

"Full of diffuse longing and hallucinatory memory, these stories shimmer and compel like half-remembered dreams. Van Schaik's poetic linked collection brings the reader on an evocative journey across decades and continents." Saleema Nawaz, author of Songs for the End of the World

"We Have Never Lived On Earth contains a bright humour, a sharpness. There's an authentic, human thrumming behind these stories. With their focus on mothers, fathers, and daughters, these linked stories explore how initial models of care feed into our romantic loves. Kasia Van Schaik captures the souring phase of relationships, where the glue has become brittle and two individuals begin to lean away from each other. Yet the characters forge their way through these moments of dislocation with grace, humour, and the perfect amount of self-awareness, which makes the reader laugh out loud, or nod knowingly. At least it did for me." Eliza Robertson, author of Demi-Gods

"Few writers can work with memory as vividly as Kasia Van Schaik—fusing fiction and remembrance with confidence, sensitivity and the shivering logic of dream. These are stories that glitter and then duck away from view, like a swimmer half-discerned. A beautiful book you can't forget." Sean Michaels, Giller Prize-winning author of Us Conductors and The Wagers

“A riff on loneliness. Exquisitely written. Profoundly moving. A must read.” Rosemary Sullivan, OC, award-winning author

“We Have Never Lived On Earth speaks to many readers’ own experiences of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, which involve the difficult work of figuring out how to move through loss and grief and, ultimately, how to be most alive in all of our imperfections. I have read many novels and collections that capture the feeling of threat the world can impose upon female bodies, but the quality of Van Schaik’s prose made these experiences alive, honest, and corporeally real throughout each story in a way I had not encountered before." Heather Jessup, author of The Lightning Field and This Is Not a Hoax: Unsettling Truth in Canadian Culture

“Traversing themes such as transience, loss, painful attachment, and belonging, Kasia Van Schaik’s stories recall literary icons Mavis Gallant and Alice Munro, though with a more immediate, youthful, contemporary lens. The vital introduction of topics such as parenthood in an age of climate crisis, Canada’s history of genocide against Indigenous peoples, as well as immigrant women and girls’ experiences in Canada, make this a powerful and much-needed addition to Canadian publishing.” Jenna Butler, author of Magnetic North

"Charlotte is a compelling heroine whose story captures the specific strangeness of contemporary women’s comings-of-age with pathos, poetry, and humor. The collection is engrossing, compulsively readable, bold in its formal experimentation, and masterful on both the sentence and story levels." Miranda Cooper, Foreword Reviews, September/October 2022 [Full review at]

"Kasia Van Schaik’s debut short story collection explores the slipperiness of memory, poking at the past to see what kinds of ephemeral meaning might be found there. Throughout, Van Schaik’s craftsmanship is unfaltering. She sketches out fully realized characters with just the lightest of strokes, then traces connections between them that resonate with familiarity… We Have Never Lived on Earth augurs the arrival of a major literary talent, a writer of great skill with an unfailing barometer for emotional resonance. It’s an outstanding debut collection that’s polished and unvaryingly satisfying, leaving an enduring mark on the reader’s memory." Jury comments, Concordia University First Book Prize

“Themes of geography, movement, departure, and renewal animate We Have Never Lived on Earth, weaving a narrative cohesiveness that balances the contrast between stories set at various times and in various places…. As a narrator, [Charlotte] is incisive and compelling; as a character, she is appealingly vulnerable. The collection manages to be both dense and sparsely elegant…. The writing is intellectually rich without being obtrusive, and often warm and poignant, sometimes highlighting moments that hover between comedy and pathos…. We Have Never Lived on Earth is bold in the questions it asks, and the scope of the narrative it conveys, but in the tradition of the best short stories, it is the small, precisely rendered moments that make it resonant, familiar, and refreshing.” Danielle Barkley, Montreal Review of Books, December 8, 2022 [Full review at]

“We Have Never Lived On Earth explores the care that exists between mothers and daughters, and between friends and lovers. It also considers what it means to care for other species — land animals, birds and whales — and, above all, for the planet.” -- Carol Matthews, British Columbia Review of Books, December 8, 2022. [Full review at:]

"Van Schaik debuts with a compelling collection of short stories. The character-driven coming-of-age narratives focus on Charlotte, a South African immigrant raised by her single mother in Canada. The stories explore every intimate aspect of life... Notes of fantasy give the richly detailed writing a dreamlike atmosphere, while topics from objectification to ecology keep listeners tethered to reality... [The stories] will appeal to listeners seeking brief, beautiful stories about family, friendships, and their power to transform. Recommended for fans of Chelsea Bieker, Elizabeth Strout, and Zadie Smith." Lauren Hackert, Library Journal, August 2023

Concordia University First Book Prize, Canada
Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada
How Will You Prepare for Happiness?
Premium Girl
House on Carbonate
The Peninsula of Happiness
A Girl in Nova Scotia
A Girl Called Helsinki
Swimming Upright
How to Be Silent in German
Notes on a Separation
Visitor to Crete
Youth Orchestra
Cellular Memory
The Cascades
This Is Fine
We Have Never Lived on Earth
An Ounce of Care
ISBNs: 9781772126280 978-1-77212-628-0 Title: we have never lived on earth ISBNs: 9781772126648 978-1-77212-664-8 Title: we have never lived on earth ISBNs: 9781772126655 978-1-77212-665-5 Title: we have never lived on earth ISBNs: 9781772127065 978-1-77212-706-5 Title: we have never lived on earth