A witty, moving, piercingly insightful new novel about a marvelously complicated woman who can’t be anyone but herself, from the award-winning author of Chemistry.
“A deeply felt portrait . . . With gimlet-eyed observation laced with darkly biting wit, Weike Wang masterfully probes the existential uncertainty of being other in America.”—Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere
Joan is a thirtysomething ICU doctor at a busy New York City hospital. The daughter of Chinese parents who came to the United States to secure the American dream for their children, Joan is intensely devoted to her work, happily solitary, successful. She does look up sometimes and wonder where her true roots lie: at the hospital, where her white coat makes her feel needed, or with her family, who try to shape her life by their own cultural and social expectations.
Once Joan and her brother, Fang, were established in their careers, her parents moved back to China, hoping to spend the rest of their lives in their homeland. But when Joan’s father suddenly dies and her mother returns to America to reconnect with her children, a series of events sends Joan spiraling out of her comfort zone just as her hospital, her city, and the world are forced to reckon with a health crisis more devastating than anyone could have imagined.
Deceptively spare yet quietly powerful, laced with sharp humor, Joan Is Okay touches on matters that feel deeply resonant: being Chinese-American right now; working in medicine at a high-stakes time; finding one’s voice within a dominant culture; being a woman in a male-dominated workplace; and staying independent within a tight-knit family. But above all, it’s a portrait of one remarkable woman so surprising that you can’t get her out of your head.
Weike Wang is a graduate of Harvard University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry and her doctorate in public health. She received her MFA from Boston University. Her fiction has been published in literary magazines, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Glimmer Train, and Ploughshares, which also named Chemistry the winner of its John C. Zacharis Award. A “5 Under 35” honoree of the National Book Foundation, Weike currently lives in New York City.
Rachel Khong: "I’m a writer living in San Francisco. My debut novel, Goodbye, Vitamin, won the 2017 California Book Award for First Fiction, and was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist for First Fiction. From 2011 to 2016, I was the managing editor then executive editor of Lucky Peach magazine. With Lucky Peach, I also edited a cookbook about eggs, called All About Eggs. In 2018, I founded The Ruby, a work and event space for women and nonbinary writers and artists in San Francisco’s Mission district. I’m currently at work on a novel, and will squirm if you ask about it. It’s fine, it’s all going fine! "