Joan Is Okay: A Novel (Hardcover)
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.
About the Author
Weike Wang was born in Nanjing, China, and grew up in Australia, Canada, and the United States. She 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, the Ploughshares John C. Zacharis First Book Award, and a Whiting Award. She is a “5 Under 35” honoree of the National Book Foundation and her work has appeared in The New Yorker. She currently lives in New York City.
“Weike Wang takes us into the heart of the matter: death, dysfunction, xenophobia, misogyny, and the chronic misapprehension that passes between people of good intentions. The miracle that emerges, then, is just how funny this book is, how compassionate and visionary.”—Joshua Ferris, author of A Calling for Charlie Barnes
“Incisive yet tender, written with elegant style and delicious verve. Joan isn’t just okay, she’s wonderful. I could listen to her smart, witty voice forever.”—Sigrid Nunez, National Book Award-Winning author of The Friend
“Joan Is Okay charts the internal story of the mythic immigrant success narrative in a tragicomedy about the costs of generational betterment.”—Mona Simpson, author of My Hollywood and Casebook
“This is an Asian American novel like no other, set in the heart of the pandemic, in the city I call home. Joan is my hero.”—Ed Park
“Joan is a character I will be thinking about for a long time to come. I could not put this book down.”—Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek
“Scathingly witty . . . Wang is wonderful at understated sadness presented without a twinge of self-pity.”—Jim Shepard, author of The Book of Aron
“I am staggered by Weike Wang’s humor, heart, and brilliance. I loved Joan and I am pressing this book into your hands.”—Lily King, author of Writers and Lovers
“Engrossing . . . Joan is fine; the problem is other people. I loved this book and didn’t want it to end.”—Marcy Dermansky, author of Very Nice
“This novel made me laugh, think, feel a bunch of things, laugh some more. And then, when I was least expecting, it snuck up and kicked me in the gut so hard I cried. Joan’s voice and world view are hard to shake, and Weike Wang’s writing is immensely rewarding and enjoyable. I really, really didn’t want this book to end.”—Charles Yu, National Book Award–winning author of Interior Chinatown
“Brilliant, subtly powerful, and different—in the best way.”—Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye, Vitamin
“Unflinchingly, Joan Is Okay challenges some of our fundamental views on home, belonging, family. A smart, quietly engaging novel that is also warm and moving.”—Ha Jin
“Brilliant, precise, excruciatingly funny . . . Joan wins your deepest admiration at the same time as her vulnerability breaks your heart.”—Lara Vapnyar
“Joan is the perfect guide for our troubled times. I was left circling sentence after sentence.”—Heidi Pitlor, author of Impersonation
“Full of sly wit, off-kilter observations, and misanthropic poetry. Readers will find in Joan a kindred soul.”—Lillian Li
“Profound . . . Wang offers candid explorations of family dynamics. . . . Joan’s empathy for her patients, as well as her disapproving brother and sister in law, are consistently refreshing. It adds up to a tender and enduring portrayal of the difficulties of forging one’s own path after spending a life between cultures.”—Publishers Weekly