ANN ARBOR – Weike Wang's debut novel, "Chemistry," has been called “A genuine piece of literature: wise, humorous, and moving" by Ha Jin, National Book Award-winning author of "Waiting" and “The most assured novel about indecisiveness you’ll ever read ... An emotionally devastating novel about being young today” by The Washington Post.
Local book lovers will have the chance to meet Wang and witness her discuss her charming debut -- which also recently won her the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction -- at 7 p.m. on May 1 at Literati Bookstore, as part of the store's ongoing "Fiction at Literati" series. Wang herself is no stranger to Michigan and is thrilled to make Ann Arbor a stop on her national book tour.
"I have lived in Saginaw and Bloomfield Hills. Ann Arbor, I visited countless times to meet friends at U of M and cheer on the Wolverines," Wang said by email.
"In a different life, I even interviewed at the University of Michigan for med school. So very much looking forward to coming to Literati, a store I visited numerous times, and to meeting new readers, new friends."
Joining Wang for the discussion about "Chemistry" is Lillian Li, author of "Number One Chinese Restaurant" and a D.C. metro area native who currently lives in Ann Arbor. She is also the recipient of a Hopwood Award in Short Fiction, as well as Glimmer Train's New Writer Award.
What we're saying, in other words, is this will not be a night you'll want to miss. Since the book is called "Chemistry," this is usually the point at which we'd try to make a clever chemistry joke, but sadly, all the good ones argon.
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 Weike Wang
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, Wang currently lives in New York City.
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