Esmé Weijun Wang

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Esmé Weijun Wang
Notable works
Notable awardsWhiting Award

Esmé Weijun Wang is an American writer. She is the author of The Border of Paradise (2016) and The Collected Schizophrenias (2019). She is the recipient of a Whiting Award and in 2017, Granta Magazine named her to its decennial list of the Best of Young American Novelists.


Wang initially attended Yale University but transferred to Stanford University, from which she graduated in 2006.[1] She received her MFA degree from the University of Michigan, and her thesis became the basis for a chapter in her first novel.[2]


Wang's first book, a novel titled The Border of Paradise, was published by Unnamed Press in 2016.[3] It is a gothic family drama about a family whose patriarch has committed suicide, leaving the mother to raise her two children alone. She "enacts her own version of tong yang xi — an old-fashioned Chinese tradition of families adopting poor girls so that they may be raised alongside their sons and eventually married to them" by encouraging her son and her step-daughter to become involved with each other.[4] The Chicago Review of Books noted the careful handling of mental illness in each of the characters, concluding that "the novel raises interesting questions about child rearing, culture, and isolation".[5]

In 2017 Wang was named a Best Young American Novelist by Granta, which creates the list once per decade.[6] The following year Wang received a Whiting Award.[7] Her short story, "What Terrible Thing It Was," published in Granta in 2017,[8] appeared in the Best American Short Stories 2018 anthology.[9]

In 2019 Wang's essay collection The Collected Schizophrenias was published by Graywolf Press. The essays focus on different life experiences during her struggles with schizoaffective disorder. The Collected Schizophrenias earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly before its release.[10] Writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Katherine Coldiron later observed that the collection is "not a particularly juicy or grotesque book" and that it has "a sense of incompleteness," though she concluded that "the prose is so beautiful, and the recollection and description so vivid, that even if it were not mostly about an under-examined condition it would be easy to recommend. Esmé Weijun Wang is poised to become a major writer, and this is her origin story."[11] Ilana Masad, writing for NPR, concluded that the book was "riveting, honest, and courageously allows for complexities in the reality of what living with illness is like".[12] In The New York Times, Rachael Combe praised the writing and questioned the veracity of Wang's narration, while noting that "images and insights Wang summons from these shards are sometimes frustrating, but often dazzling, and worth the reconstructive work".[13] The Collected Schizophrenias made The New York Times Best Seller list for nonfiction shortly after its release.[14]

In 2019, Wang signed a "splashy" two-book deal with Riverhead for a new novel and a second essay collection.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Wang is a second-generation Taiwanese-American and was born in the Midwest.[16] In 2013 Wang experienced Cotard's Syndrome, an illness that makes people believe that they have already died.[17] She lives in San Francisco.[18]



  • The Border of Paradise (Unnamed Press, 2016) ISBN 9781939419699
  • The Collected Schizophrenias (Graywolf Press, 2019) ISBN 9781555978273


  1. ^ Liu, Fan (2018-04-09). "Q&A with Esmé Weijun Wang '06, Whiting Award recipient". The Stanford Daily. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  2. ^ Baxter, Hannah (2016-11-04). "The Rumpus Interview with Esmé Weijun Wang". The Rumpus. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  3. ^ "The Border Of Paradise". Unnamed Press. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  4. ^ Machado, Carmen Maria (2016-04-14). "Gothic Family Drama At 'The Border Of Paradise'". NPR. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  5. ^ Léon, Rachel (2016-04-15). "'The Border of Paradise' Explores the Dark Side of Inheritance". Chicago Review of Books. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  6. ^ "Granta's list of the best young American novelists". The Guardian. 2017-04-26. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  7. ^ L'Heureux, Catie (2018-03-21). "Meet 10 Emerging Writers Who Just Won the Whiting Award". The Cut. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  8. ^ "What Terrible Thing It Was". Granta. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  9. ^ Pitlor, Heidi and Gay, Roxane (editors), The Best American Short Stories 2018 Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2018.
  10. ^ "The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang". Publishers Weekly. 2018-10-15. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  11. ^ Coldiron, Katherine (2019-02-05). "Fractured Origins in Esmé Weijun Wang's 'The Collected Schizophrenias'". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
  12. ^ Masad, Ilana (2019-02-06). "'The Collected Schizophrenias' Conveys What It's Like To Live With A 'Hidden' Illness". NPR. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
  13. ^ Combe, Rachael (2019-02-15). "Exploring Her Own Experience of Psychosis". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  14. ^ "Paperback Nonfiction". The New York Times. 2019-02-24. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
  15. ^ "Collected Schizophrenias author Esmé Weijun Wang lands splashy 2-book deal". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  16. ^ Goode, Laura (2019-01-11). "Esmé Weijun Wang Writes Through the Story". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2019-08-02.
  17. ^ Kim, Meeri (2015-11-02). "This rare illness makes people think they're dead". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  18. ^ "Esmé Weijun Wang '". Whiting Awards. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
  19. ^ "Esme Weijun Wang Wins Graywolf Nonfiction Prize". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  20. ^ "Granta 139: Best of Young American Novelists 3". Granta Magazine. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  21. ^ "Esmé Weijun Wang". Whiting Foundation. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  22. ^ "39th Northern California Book Awards". 39th Northern California Book Awards. Retrieved 2020-01-12.
  23. ^ "Mental Health Advocacy Services". MHAS. Retrieved 2020-01-12.

External links[edit]