I fell in love with Weike Wang’s unnamed protagonist long before I ever fully understood the character’s motives. There’s just something about her which makes it impossible not to adore her. Sometimes when she’s upset, she smashes beakers. She always measures her paychecks in pizzas, not dollars. She thinks her dog is a cat even though she knows he’s clearly a dog and he knows he’s clearly a dog but for some reason he still continues to act like a cat. She likes to watch “Mad Max” late at night because all the machine guns make her feel tough. She drinks a little too much. She tells the students she tutors they’re improving even when they’re not. But best of all, in order to better comprehend her recent break-up, strife-ridden relationship with her parents, and abandonment of her PhD in chemistry, this young woman turns to comic lyricism combined with a resounding capacity to analogize science upon the everyday. Whether it’s her depression, ambivalence, or genuine confusion, the protagonist of Weike Wang’s Chemistry tackles those convoluted, problematic systems of human interaction with austere wit and genuine honesty.
Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award A Washington Post Notable Book One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Ann Patchett on PBS NewsHour, Minnesota Public Radio, PopSugar, Maris Kreizman, The Morning News Winner of Ploughshares' John C. Zacharis Award
Winner of a Whiting Award A Belletrist Amuse Book
At first glance, the quirky, overworked narrator of Weike Wang's debut novel seems to be on the cusp of a perfect life: she is studying for a prestigious PhD in chemistry that will make her Chinese parents proud (or at least satisfied), and her successful, supportive boyfriend has just proposed to her. But instead of feeling hopeful, she is wracked with ambivalence: the long, demanding hours at the lab have created an exquisite pressure cooker, and she doesn't know how to answer the marriage question. When it all becomes too much and her life plan veers off course, she finds herself on a new path of discoveries about everything she thought she knew. Smart, moving, and always funny, this unique coming-of-age story is certain to evoke a winning reaction.
About the Author
Weike Wang is a graduate of Harvard University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry and her doctorate in public health. Her first novel, Chemistry, received the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, Ploughshares' John C. Zacharis Award, and a Whiting Award. A "5 Under 35" honoree of the National Book Foundation, Weike currently lives in New York City.
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