Member Loginmenu
Joan Is Okay

Joan Is Okay

Weike Wang

  • awardLonglisted, Carnegie Medal, United Kingdom, 2023
  • Joan is a thirty-something ICU doctor at a busy New York City hospital. She is intensely devoted to her work and happily solitary, but she sometimes wonders where her true roots lie: at the hospital, where her white coat makes her feel needed, or with her family, who try to shape her life according to their cultural and social expectations.

    After moving to the United States to secure the American dream for their children, Joan’s parents have returned to China, hoping to spend the rest of their lives in their homeland now that Joan and her brother are well established in their careers. But when her father suddenly dies, a series of events sends Joan spiralling out of her comfort zone, forcing her to consider her life anew.

    Deceptively spare, quietly powerful and shot through with sharp humour, Joan Is Okay is a portrait of a marvellously surprising woman you won’t forget.


    Asian American Writers’ Workshop    
    AV Club    
    The Blurb    
    BookRiot: January 2022 book recommendations     
    Happy mag: Happy’s Best New Books   
    Harpers Magazine: New books January 2022      
    Kirkus Reviews review   
    Kirkus Reviews interview    
    Mama Mia: The 7 books everyone will be reading in February    
    Publishers Weekly    
    Radio NZ: Nine to Noon         
    Sydney Morning Herald     
    West Australian ($)   

    Weike Wang
    About the Author

    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...

    Read Moreright
    Text publication date:
    1 February 2022
    AU Price:
    NZ Price:
    Loading Rating
    Praise for Weike Wang
    andJoan Is Okay

    ‘With gimlet-eyed observation and laced with darkly biting wit, Joan Is Okay is a deeply felt portrait of a woman who’s effaced herself to survive—and how, in the face of devastating loss, she’s forced to confront her grief and her place in the world. In her second novel, Weike Wang masterfully probes the existential uncertainty of being other in America.’

    ‘Joan isn’t just okay, she’s wonderful. I could listen to her smart, witty voice forever. Incisive yet tender, written with elegant style and delicious comic verve, Wang’s story of the day-to-day life of a gifted young Chinese-American ICU doctor amply fulfils the outstanding promise of her debut novel.’

    ‘I would read anything Weike Wang writes, even a cereal box. With skilful and singular insight, humour, and heart, in her new novel she navigates impossible-to-talk-about territory: grief, family, the straddling of two cultures. Joan Is Okay, like Joan herself, is brilliant, subtly powerful, and different—in the best way.’

    ‘Written in a distinct, original style, this story is subtle, nuanced, intense. It shows the complicated facets of the immigrant experience and speaks to many current immigrants’ condition. Unflinchingly, Joan Is Okay challenges some of our fundamental views on home, belonging, family. A smart, quietly engaging novel that is also warm and moving.’

    Joan Is Okay offers no easy solution or false cheer for troubling times. Rather, Weike Wang takes us into the heart of the matter: death, dysfunction, COVID-19, xenophobia, misogyny, and the chronic misapprehension that passes between people of good intentions. The miracle that emerges, then, is just how funny this book is, how compassionate and visionary.’

    ‘I am staggered by Weike Wang’s humor, heart, and brilliance. I loved Joan and I am pressing this book into your hands.’

    ‘Joan is a character I will be thinking about for a long time to come. Her extreme naivete, her lack of filter, her drive–in some ways, she’s the opposite of the protagonist in Weike Wang’s debut novel, Chemistry (one of my favorite books ever!) but they share a similar core in many ways, shaped by their similar childhoods with parents who longed to return to China, even if that meant being away from their own children. The spare, staccato prose works to accentuate the characterization to great effect. I could not put this book down.’

    ‘I loved this book, even more than Chemistry—once I could finally read it: The rest of my family took turns stealing it off my desk, cackling with glee, debating which characters were their favorites. This is an Asian-American novel like no other, set in the heart of the pandemic, in the city I call home. Joan is my hero.’

    ‘Plucky, mordant, unflappable, Joan resists the American lures of affluence, consumer aesthetics and sitcom romance. Joan is Okay charts the internal story of the mythic immigrant success narrative in a tragicomedy about the costs of generational betterment.’

    ‘In Joan, Wang has created a compelling character, utterly distinct, and the novel is carried by her dispassionate, clear-eyed, and often drily amusing narration.’

    ‘A wry, wise and simply spectacular book.’

    ‘Wang’s sense of humour makes [Joan Is Okay] both a page-turner and a poignant reflection on the familial ruptures caused by immigrating.’

    ‘Downright hilarious…punctuated by moments of unexpected tenderness…Like Joan herself, Wang’s narrative is at once laser-focused and multilayered. She raises provocative questions about motherhood, daughterhood, belonging and the many definitions of “home”. What do we owe our parents? Our children? And are any of us okay?’

    ‘Brilliant and often funny.’

    Joan Is Okay is a brilliantly funny and powerful story about a woman who will surprise everyone, even herself.’

    ‘Deceptively spare, quietly powerful and shot through with sharp humour, Joan Is Okay is a portrait of a marvellously surprising woman you won’t forget.’

    ‘Alternately wryly witty and sharply poignant, offering an incisive and engaging portrait of a woman who has grown up feeling othered and out of place, and has learnt to find both self-effacement and satisfaction in her work.’

    ‘This novel provides a fascinating character study that holds the reader at a tantalising distance, never quite all the way in but enough to see the faultline.’

    ‘[A] witty, sharply observed drama.’

    ‘Another deep, insightful, compassionate and moving story from Wang.’

    ‘A magnificent story of identity and finding separate paths to belonging.’

    ‘Delightful, affirming…this one is for fans of Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman. Joan is not just okay—she’s awesome.’

    ‘An exploration of how family shapes us for better or for worse…and the way we sometimes get in our own way…[A] really beautiful character study.’

    ‘The uncomfortable humour and weird politics of family are front and centre…delivered with surprisingly caustic wit.’

    ‘Witty and understated…Joan is not, of course, okay, but not in the ways the people around her think. When she finally flies off the handle, the results are spectacular.’

    ‘Every once in a while, you encounter a fictional character who stays with you: someone whose voice is just so particular, whose observations and judgements of the world around them are so exact yet surprising, that you wish you could ask them what they think about everything. This is how I feel about the narrator, Joan, in Weike Wang’s second novel, Joan Is Okay.’

    Other editions ofJoan Is Okay
    • Joan Is Okay
      ISBN: 9781922459787
      1 February 2022
      Buy ebook
    Other Titles byWeike Wang