Chemistry: A novel
Weike Wang’s debut novel, Chemistry, follows the story of a PhD student studying chemistry in Boston. With the building pressure of her immigrant parents’ expectations and frequent proposals from her accomplished chemist boyfriend, the narrator of the novel comes undone. As she deals with a crumbling academic career and a potentially failing relationship, the narrator confides in her best friend and her beloved dog, takes on a tutoring job where she discusses ideas bigger than what her students are meant to be learning, and finds herself forced to make difficult decisions.
Wang never reveals the narrator’s name or, for that matter, the names of most of the novel’s characters, save for the narrator’s boyfriend, Eric. This namelessness intensifies the often abstract and cerebral nature of the novel—the narrator’s mind is playful and intellectual, funny yet melancholy, and her commentary and comparisons turn the everyday or the upsetting into the vivid and thought-provoking. Chemistry is thoughtful and fresh at every level, from molecular scientific exploration to wider contemplation of love and family.
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