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Chemistry

  • Hardcover $24.95

    May 23, 2017 | 224 Pages

  • Ebook $12.99

    May 23, 2017 | 224 Pages

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Praise

Chemistry starts as a charming confection and then proceeds to add on layers of emotional depth and complexity with every page. It is to Wang’s great credit that she manages to infuse such seriousness with so much light. I loved this novel.” —Ann Patchett

“In this debut novel, a graduate student in chemistry learns the meaning of explosive when the rigors of the hard sciences clash with the chronic instability of the heart. A traditional family, a can’t-miss fiancé, and a research project in meltdown provide sufficient catalyst to launch the protagonist off in search of that which cannot be cooked up in the lab.” —The Millions, “Most Anticipated of 2017”

“A genuine piece of literature: wise, humorous, and moving.” —Ha Jin
 
“With its limpid style, comic verve, and sensitive examination of love, need, and aspiration, this exquisitely soul-searching novel is sure to be one of the most outstanding debuts of the year.” —Sigrid Nunez

“Weike Wang’s voice is indelible—hypnotic, mesmerizing, and strange in the best possible way. In Chemistry she creates a fully realized portrait of a brilliant mind in crisis, illuminating a corner of the human experience that’s woefully underexplored. By the last page I was devastated, transported, and craving more.” —Emily Gould, author of Friendship

“How do we learn to love if we haven’t been taught? That question seems to be the nucleus of Chemistry. Wang challenges the conventions of the marriage plot: the story begins with a proposal, falls into an alienating existential crisis, and ends in the morally ambiguous territory of self-actualization. The force of the novel is the narrator’s perfectly-executed voice, unflinching and painfully self-aware as she deconstructs her life—disastrously, bravely—to see if there is anything at the bottom she can hold on to.” —Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter

Chemistry (appropriately enough) explodes the stereotype of the model minority. Wang’s voice is a revelation—by turns deadpan and despairing, wry and wrenching, but always and precisely true.” —Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl and The Fortunes

Chemistry is a sly and infectious book. I read it quickly, galloping through the pages, marveling at the insight and the charm of this narrator as she uses her scientific impulses to explore the world around her and, ultimately, herself.” —Cristina Henríquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans

“A rebellious debut: a wry, subtle, deeply attuned examination of love, immigration, family, and chemistry in all its forms. With its dark wit, probing self-examinations, and profound meditations on science and the soul, this is a novel for fellow seekers.” —Sarah Gerard, author of Binary Star and Sunshine State
 
“Science is an excellent lens for Weike Wang’s look at a young woman’s wonderfully skewed experience of love, ambition, loyalty, and, of course, chemistry. The pressure to excel, as applied by immigrant parents, comes up against basic questions of self-discovery: ‘Find me the thing that I can make the greatest impact in and I will do that thing,’ says the chemistry whiz who has gone off course. This very appealing narrator is funny and original, and the novel is filled with compelling information from the world of chemistry as well as gems such as Einstein’s thoughts on love, communicated to his daughter. In a word, this debut is: elemental.” —Amy Hempel

Chemistry casts a rare spell, some alchemic mixture all its own. Though her ingredients are familiar—being young, uncertain, and estranged—Weike Wang gives them to us anew; her wry, off-beat vision demands that we look again, as if for the very first time.” —Casey Schwartz, author of In the Mind Fields

“A graduate student struggling with her research begins to question whether she really love science—or her boyfriend.” —Isabella Biedenharn, Entertainment Weekly, “New Year, New Voices”

“With her academic career unraveling and an unanswered proposal from her boyfriend looming, Wang’s narrator– a young, female scientist—throws comfort and predictability to the wind, finally daring to ask herself what she really wants out of life.” —E. Ce Miller, Bustle “15 New Authors You’re Going to Be Obsessed With This Year”

“A longstanding complaint I’ve had with so-called literary fiction is that it too rarely invents mathematicians, or scientists, perhaps because most writers know little about either field. (Delightful exceptions: Catherine Chung’s A Forgotten Country, Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and the Professor, Jeanette Winterson’s Gut Symmetries.) Chemistry looks like a worthy addition to the line-up.” —R.O. Kwon, Electric Lit “34 Books by Women of Color to Read This Year”

“A clipped, funny, painfully honest narrative voice lights up Wang’s debut about a Chinese-American graduate student who finds the scientific method inadequate for understanding her parents, her boyfriend, or herself . . . Wang [has a] gift for perspective.”Publishers Weekly
 
“If you loved both the brains and the heart of Jenny Offill’s short yet emotionally epic novel Dept. of Speculation, Chemistry will be your next favorite read. Wang’s eloquent debut is full of short vignettes on the nature of love and overbearing families and academic failures and complicated relationships, all told through the lens of science. Chemistry proves to be a useful metaphorical tool for describing the messy moments in life for which no perfect formula exists.” —Maris Kreizman, Vulture Spring Preview 2017
 
“Endearing…Equal parts intense and funny…The narrator’s voice—distinctive and appealing—makes this novel at once moving and amusing, never predictable. A wry, unique, touching tale of the limits of parental and partnership pressure.” —Kirkus 

“Beguiling . . . wry and witty . . . A funny, idiosyncratic story of a young woman with big brains, big family baggage and a wonderfully fresh voice sorting out a world of science, language, dogs, counseling therapy, a BFF and her baby, SAT tutoring, Boston weather, cases of wine, TV cooking shows—and piecing together the right chemistry in her life . . . Wang’s narrator spices her daily ups and downs with a little bit of science here, a Chinese language oddity there, shrink-talk and a running stream of observations about parents and child- and dog-rearing . . . But her coping and sorting is not just about being clever—Wang has an astute feel for the deep, scary uncertainties of a young, talented woman trying to shake off a demanding family and a derailed career and relationship . . . Chemistry is full of surprises—its many digressions congealing to yield an impressive literary blend.” —Bruce Jacobs, Shelf Awareness

“A graduate student in chemistry at a rigorous Boston-area university, the sharp, self-aware narrator of this engaging work is having doubts about her career aspirations and her boyfriend. Named a ‘Most Anticipated Novel of 2017’ by Entertainment Weekly, the Millions, and Bustle, and they were right.” Library Journal

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