We Have Never Lived On Earth

By Kasia Van Schaik
Categories: Literature & Language Studies, Social Sciences, Family Studies, Art & Performance Studies, Art, Environmental & Nature Studies, Climate Change, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Women’s Studies
Series: Robert Kroetsch Series
Publisher: University of Alberta Press
Paperback : 9781772126280, 184 pages, October 2022
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781772126648, 160 pages, October 2022
Ebook (PDF) : 9781772126655, 160 pages, October 2022
Audiobook : 9781772127065, 184 pages, March 2023


“She rests her hand on my arm, her eyes clear and serious. We could be the same person, encountering each other in a fragment of time lived twice.”

Table of contents

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


Kasia Van Schaik’s debut story collection follows the journey of Charlotte Ferrier, a child of divorce raised by a single mother in a small town in British Columbia after moving from South Africa. Mother and daughter wait out the end of a bad year in a Mexican hotel; a friendship is tested as forest fires demolish Charlotte’s town; a childhood friend disappears while travelling through Europe; and a girl on the beach examines the memories of dying jellyfish. The stories traverse the most intimate and transforming moments of female experience in a world threatened by ecological crisis.


  • Short-listed, Concordia University First Book Prize 2022


"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 https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/we-have-never-lived-on-earth/]

“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: https://thebcreview.ca/2022/12/08/1659-matthews-van-schaik/]

“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 https://mtlreviewofbooks.ca/reviews/we-have-never-lived-on-earth-kasia-van-shaik/]

"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