STARRED REVIEW
February 2019

Collected Schizophrenias

By Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang delivers stunning insights into the challenges of living with schizoaffective disorder in The Collected Schizophrenias. Wang provides glimpses of her journey toward understanding herself with deliberate, sparkling prose and exquisitely fine-tuned, honest descriptions filled with intimate details of her struggles.

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Esmé Weijun Wang delivers stunning insights into the challenges of living with schizoaffective disorder in The Collected Schizophrenias. Wang provides glimpses of her journey toward understanding herself with deliberate, sparkling prose and exquisitely fine-tuned, honest descriptions filled with intimate details of her struggles.

Wang describes herself as an overachieving child; she wrote a 200-page novel in the fifth grade and assigned herself essays to write during school vacations. In high school, when she told her mother that she was considering suicide, her mother suggested they do it together. Later, after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and accepted to Yale, Wang fled to the East Coast college, where her life began to fall apart at a rapid clip. 

Wang finally received her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder eight years after she experienced her first hallucination. She admits that she finds the diagnosis comforting, as it provides a “framework, a community, a lineage. . . . [A] diagnosis says that I am crazy, but in a particular way that has been experienced and recorded.” Once Wang receives her diagnosis, she probes every facet of her illness, sharing her insights with us along the way. Wang brilliantly explores the relationship between herself and her psychosis, writing, “[I]f I am psychotic 98 percent of the time, who am I?”

The Collected Schizophrenias easily takes its place among the best memoirs about illness and the transformative power of embracing it.

 

This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Collected Schizophrenias

The Collected Schizophrenias

By Esmé Weijun Wang
Graywolf
ISBN 9781555978273

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