Filled with incredible nuance, beautiful writing, and deep sympathy; Putsata Reang’s stunning memoir Ma and Me is sure to be one of the best books I’ll read this year. Tracing her mother’s story – escaping the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia and surviving an abusive marriage – to her own experience; growing up as a gay Khmer-American pulled between to cultures – Reang’s deeply personal book and explores the depth of a mother/daughter relationship and the weight of expectation placed upon future generations. Both full of light and sadness, Ma and Me is a wonder; holding life’s beauty and heartbreak in tandem. I cannot recommend this memoir highly enough
Ma and Me by Putsata Reang, (List Price: $28, MCD, 9780374279264, May 2022)
Reviewed by Caleb Masters, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
"…sometimes being around writers is kind of strange. I love them, but sometimes there’s just this sense of impracticality with writing. It’s just such an inefficient system. I feel like I’m always straddling the middle place. I have no desire to write this character that’s a repudiation, because that in and of itself is a stereotype. That is defined by white marketing, I think—the dominant race marketing whatever they think “good Asian people” or “cool Asian people” are supposed to be. I don’t want it to be that tidy. I don’t want people to dismiss Joan—I want them to really stay with her and see how she’s managing this difficult year in her life. ” "–Weike Wang (via Electric Lit)
What booksellers are saying about Joan is Okay
An insightful story about a woman living life on her own less-traditional terms and facing the pushback from society and family as a result. I really enjoyed getting to know Joan and was routing for her throughout the book, which was a compelling and thoughtful read. ― Melissa Summers from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC Buy from Main Street Books
Joan is the youngest child and only daughter of Chinese immigrants, a brilliant intensive care doctor, a workaholic for whom the hospital is the closest she’s ever had to feeling at home – and one of the most different and memorable characters you’re likely to encounter this year. Joan is Okay is full of subtle wit as she navigates both her relationships with her family following her father’s death, and her identity as a Chinese American. Joan may be okay – but this gentle, nuanced novel is most definitely more than okay. ―Jude Burke-Lewis from Square Books in Oxford, MS Buy from Square Books
Joan is Okay is so, so good! I loved this contemporary story about family, immigration, and life expectations. As unique as her experience is, it was easy to relate to Joan’s struggle against the pressures to conform that come at her from all sides. Wang’s smart prose sparkles with spare intensity, just like Joan herself. I can’t wait to tell readers about this book! ―Serena Wyckoff from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL Buy from Copperfish Books
Like many readers I adored Weike Wang’s debut novel Chemistry and have been eagerly awaiting her next book. In Joan is Okay Wang builds on what made Chemistry so successful — not only her exploration of the intersection of race and gender in spaces predominantly inhabited by men (in this case moving from the chemistry lab to the ICU) but also her ability to capture the quiet sadness underlying the lives of her characters. I won’t be able to stop thinking about this clever, poignant novel for weeks to come. ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC Buy from Bookmarks
About Weike Wang
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.
Qian Julie Wang opens her heart and bares her soul in this striking memoir about an illegal Chinese immigrant family. Wang does a fine job describing the poverty and sweatshops of Chinatown, her parents’ fear of getting deported, and her determination to make something of herself in Mei Guo, America, the beautiful country. The poverty and prejudice her family faced as well as her parents’ marital difficulties created trauma that Wang today is still determined to break through.
Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang, (List Price: 28.95, Doubleday, 9780385547215, September 2021)
A young Chinese immigrant calls Child Services on her mother. Like the threads whirling through her mother and stepfather’s New York City sweatshop where she was forced to work as a girl, Anna Qu’s debut memoir is full of the fragments of a traumatic childhood and the challenges of piecing together the truth—about trauma and the generational pattern of cruelty, about immigration and identity, labor and self-worth, and ultimately, the love we deserve, awaiting us.
Made in China by Anna Qu, (List Price: 26, Catapult, 9781646220342, August 2021)