Joan is Okay
in conversation with May-lee Chai
Tues., Feb 1 • 5:30pm PT • Live • Online
Joan is a thirtysomething ICU doctor at a busy New York City hospital. The daughter of Chinese parents who came to the United States to secure the American dream for their children, Joan is intensely devoted to her work, happily solitary, successful.
When Joan’s father suddenly dies and her mother returns to America from China to reconnect with her children, a series of events sends Joan spiraling out of her comfort zone just as her hospital, her city, and the world are forced to reckon with a health crisis more devastating than anyone could have imagined. Deceptively spare yet quietly powerful, laced with sharp humor, Joan Is Okay touches on matters that feel deeply resonant: being Chinese-American right now; working in medicine at a high-stakes time; finding one’s voice within a dominant culture; being a woman in a male-dominated workplace. But above all, it’s a portrait of one remarkable woman so surprising that you can’t get her out of your head.
Weike Wang is the author of Chemistry and the just released novel, Joan is Okay. She is the recipient of the 2018 Pen Hemingway, a Whiting award and a National Book Foundation 5 under 35. Her work has appeared in Glimmer Train and The New Yorker, among other publications. She is in the 2019 Best American Short Stories and O. Henry Prizes. She currently lives in New York City and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.
May-lee Chai is the author of ten books and is a recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Prose (2006-7). Her latest collection of short stories, Useful Phrases for Immigrants, won the 2019 American Book Award. Her novels include My Lucky Face (1997), Dragon Chica (2010) and Tiger Girl (2013), which won an Asian/Pacific American Award in Literature. She is also currently an assistant professor in creative writing at San Francisco State University.
Weike Wang photo courtesy of the author; May-lee Chai photo by Bob Hsiang Photography