Arts & Leisure

Book review: Joan is Okay — by Weike Wang

(Random House)

Is Joan okay? That seems to be the question on everyone’s mind, except for Joan. She’s very comfortable with who she is, and will not easily succumb to outside pressure. A child of Chinese immigrants, she was born in the United States — she hilariously describes how she had to be the English-speaker in the household, called on to order takeout and talk to banks. But people are concerned; her brother can’t understand her reluctance to move to the suburbs and give up her job as head in intensive care at a hospital. He doesn’t know how Joan feels about the ICU, and about the machines in the ICU, she “liked the purity of it, the total sense of control.” When her mother comes for a visit that turns protracted when the current pandemic begins to shut down travel to China, and her boss forces a “wellness” leave of almost two months for her own good, and her gregarious neighbor furnishes her apartment because she never has, and her brother, ups his pressure because he has bestowed upon himself the title of patriarch after the death of her dear, sweet father, it seems as though the mystery of Joan must be revealed. Tender, biting, moving, real. A great novel.

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons. Connect with her on Instagram @jennysbookshop to find more great book reviews and recommendations. Look for these titles and more at your local bookstore.

9 New Asian Novels

The School for Good Mothers, by Jessamine Chan

Honor, by Thrity Umrigar

Fiona and Jane, by Jean Chen Ho

Daughter of the Moon Goddess, by Sue Lynn Tan

The Family Chao, by Lan Samantha Chang

The Swimmers, by Julie Otsuka

Beasts of a Little Land, by Juhea Kim

Bibliolepsy, by Gina Apostol

Tell Me How to Be, by Neel Patel

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