Chemistry: A Novel
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2017
Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
ISBN:
9781524731755
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Description
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 NewsWinner of Ploughshares' John C. Zacharis AwardWinner of a Whiting AwardA Belletrist Amuse BookAt 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.
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Weike Wang. (2017). Chemistry: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Weike Wang. 2017. Chemistry: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Weike Wang, Chemistry: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Weike Wang. Chemistry: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Sep 28, 2017 20:31:00
Date Updated:
May 18, 2019 00:54:25
Last Metadata Check:
May 19, 2019 13:22:55
Last Metadata Change:
May 08, 2019 17:42:42
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May 19, 2019 13:23:42
Last Availability Change:
Mar 10, 2019 13:19:28

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      • role: Author
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      • bioText: 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 or is forthcoming from Alaska Quarterly Review, Glimmer Train, The Journal, Ploughshares, Redivider, and SmokeLong Quarterly.
      • name: Weike Wang
imprint
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publishDate
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title
Chemistry
fullDescription
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.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
      • content: "A novel about an intelligent woman trying to find her place in the world. It has only the smallest pinches of action but generous measures of humor and emotion. The moody but endearing narrative voice is reminiscent of Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation and Catherine Lacey's Nobody is Ever Missing. Fans of those novels will find a lot to enjoy here . . . Moments of tenderness are repeatedly juxtaposed with moments of misery . . . The [narrator] tells us there is a phrase for family love in Chinese that in translation means 'I hurt for you.' This love, rather than romantic love, feels like the true subject of the book. Chemistry will appeal to anyone asking themselves, How do I create the sort of family I want without rejecting the family I have?" --Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, The New York Times Book Review

        "One of the year's most winningly original debuts . . . Nearly every page is marked by some kind of breezy scientific...
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 20, 2017
        A clipped, funny, painfully honest narrative voice lights up Wang’s debut novel about a Chinese-American graduate student who finds the scientific method inadequate for understanding her parents, her boyfriend, or herself. The optimist sees the glass as half-full, the pessimist half-empty, explains the narrator, while a chemist sees it as half-liquid, half-gaseous, probably poisonous. At 27, this aspiring chemist has reached a point in her research at which, seeing no progress, her thesis advisor suggests changing topics. Instead, she has a breakdown in the lab, smashing beakers and shouting until security guards are called. Her romantic relationship also reaches a turning point when her boyfriend takes a job out of state. The thought of relocation elicits the narrator’s unhappy memories of her family’s emigration from Shanghai to Detroit when she was five: her father learned English, worked hard, became an engineer, but her mother, a pharmacist in China, never quite adapted. Caught between parents, languages, and cultures, the narrator devotes herself to academic study. Only after her best friend has a baby does she begin to comprehend love, the one power source, according to Einstein, man has never mastered. Wang offers a unique blend of scientific observations, Chinese proverbs, and American movie references. In spare prose, characters remain unnamed, except for boyfriend Eric and the baby, nicknamed “Destroyer.” Descriptions of the baby’s effect on adults and adults’ effect on a dog demonstrate Wang’s gift for perspective—the dog’s, the chemist’s, the immigrant parents, and, most intimately, their bright, quirky, conflicted daughter.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 15, 2017
        Equal parts intense and funny novel about one woman's breakdown.The endearing unnamed narrator is a Chinese immigrant working toward her Ph.D. in chemistry at Boston University. When her kind and well-adjusted boyfriend, Eric, asks her to marry him, she is, far from being thrilled, ambivalent. Her indecision throws them into a state of limbo, as he waits to hear whether he will be offered a job in Ohio and she struggles to complete her doctorate by solving her scientific problem in the lab. The only child of an extremely demanding, rageful father and a bitter, beautiful, neglectful mother, the narrator was raised in a house of anger and violence. This makes it difficult for her to accept Eric's love--he had such a wonderful childhood that he can't even name the worst thing his parents ever said. She has always been a scientist, quiet and focused, shutting out emotions--her childhood being what it was, the onslaught of emotions, were she to allow them in, would be too much. Eventually, she can repress no longer and has something of a mental breakdown--quitting her studies, drinking excessively, hiding out. It is this breakdown from which, over the course of the novel, she makes an incremental return to stability, finding comfort in the love of her anxious dog, her best friend and her best friend's baby, her therapist's questions, and eventually one of the older students she has been tutoring. Though essentially unhinged, the narrator is thoughtful and funny, her scramble understandable. It is her voice--distinctive and appealing--that makes this novel at once moving and amusing, never predictable. Wry, unique, touching tale of the limits of parental and partnership pressure.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 1, 2017

        DEBUT After spontaneously cutting off eight inches of hair, Wang's never-named narrator returns to her chemistry lab and smashes five beakers. She insists, "Beakers are cheap," yet the personal price is inestimable: the shattered vessels parallel an equal number of portentous changes involving her PhD program, her boyfriend, her parents, her understanding of her own self, the future she expected. As the only child of demanding Chinese immigrants, she's always been an achiever--until she isn't. Having witnessed more angry accusations than nurturing support between her parents, she's panicked rather than joyful by her boyfriend's marriage proposal. While he applies for teaching appointments, she distracts herself with alcohol, the dog, and occasional calls to her pregnant best friend in another city. Untethered, she must discover the right formula that might propel her forward. Despite a captivating opening and poignant ending, the muddled middle devolves into tedious cliches, from the near-perfect child fearful of disappointing her tiger parents to the culturally blinded, privileged white man to the over-achieving new mother with the philandering husband. VERDICT Wang, herself a Harvard chemistry major, debuts what could have been a clever, witty novel of self-discovery. More affective might ultimately have been a distilled short story.--Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: School Library Journal
      • content:

        January 1, 2018

        The unnamed heroine in this touching fiction is plagued with uncertainty. She is a Chinese American woman struggling to earn a doctorate in chemistry when her white boyfriend proposes marriage. Contemplating the notion of matrimony after witnessing her own parents' bitter union, fearing failure in the lab, and growing increasingly depressed, she has a destructive breakdown. As she tries to resurface, she questions everything, and science offers the answers. This brief yet potent debut asks profound questions with an altogether unique voice. Imagine a blend of Chris from Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Lydia from Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You, and you may begin to know the protagonist. Wang addresses, in sparse staccato prose, a wide range of topics-romance, friendship, mental illness, dogs, science, and Chinese American culture across generations-with quirky scientific anecdotes that serve as tangential diversions. VERDICT This funny and unforgettable book will appeal to thoughtful teens who like humor with a serious undercurrent.-Tara Kehoe, formerly at the New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Trenton

        Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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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
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...
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group