The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

Esmé Weijun Wang. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-55597-827-3
In this penetrating and revelatory exploration, novelist Wang (The Border of Paradise) shows how having a bipolar-type schizoaffective disorder has permeated her life. Stating that “my brain has been one of my most valuable assets since childhood,” she writes with blunt honesty about striving to be seen as “high functioning,” aware that “the brilliant facade of a good face and a good outfit” drastically affects how she is perceived. She explains her decision not to have children, while recalling time spent working at a camp for bipolar children, and muses about viewing her condition as a manifestation of “supernatural ability” rather than a hindrance. Wang invariably describes her symptoms and experiences with remarkable candor and clarity, as when she narrates a soul-crushing stay in a Louisiana mental hospital and the alarming onset of a delusion in which “the thought settles over me, fine and gray as soot, that I am dead.” She also tackles societal biases and misconceptions about mental health issues, criticizing involuntary commitment laws as cruel. Throughout these essays, Wang trains a dispassionate eye onto her personal narrative, creating a clinical remove that allows for the neurotypical reader’s greater comprehension of a thorny and oft-misunderstood topic. Agent: Jin Auh, the Wylie Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/15/2018
Release date: 02/05/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-978640-92-4
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