Powerful, affecting essays on mental illness, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and a Whiting Award
An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esmé Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the “collected schizophrenias” but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical community’s own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang’s analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative. An essay collection of undeniable power, The Collected Schizophrenias dispels misconceptions and provides insight into a condition long misunderstood.
Reviews and Endorsements:
“[An] utterly unique book of essays: a deep, illuminating, and explosively written dive into a life of living with mental illness.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Penetrating and revelatory.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“This mesmerizing collection of essays has achieved the rarest of rarities—a meaningful and expansive language for a subject that has been long bound by both deep revulsion and intense fascination.”—Jenny Zhang
“A brilliant guide to the complexities of thinking about illness, and mental illness, in particular. It will bring hope to others searching to understand their own diagnoses.”—Meghan O’Rourke
“A masterful braiding of the achingly personal and the incisively researched. . . . This book is a vital, illuminating window onto the world we all already live in, but find all too easy to ignore.”—Alexandra Kleeman
“You won't find any pity-baiting, sensationalism, or false positivity here; Wang is so candidly aware that I’d trust her over my own diary.”—Tony Tulathimutte
“Esmé Weijun Wang offers us an all-access pass to her beautiful, unquiet mind. . . Rarely has a book about living with mental illness felt so immediate, raw, and powerful.”—Dani Shapiro
“The Collected Schizophrenias is at once generous and brilliantly nuanced, rigorous and bold. It had me rethinking what it is to be well or ill.”—R. O. Kwon
"Esmé Weijun Wang sends out revelatory dispatches from an under-mapped land, shot like arrows in all directions from a taut bow of a mind. . . . Her work changes the way we think about illness – which is to say that it changes us."—Whiting Award Selection Committee
About the Author:
Esmé Weijun Wang is the author of The Border of Paradise. She received the Whiting Award in 2018 and was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists of 2017. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan and lives in San Francisco.