ESME WEIJUN WANG WINS GRAYWOLF PRESS NONFICTION PRIZE

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The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang has been chosen as the newest winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. The book was selected from hundreds of manuscripts by Graywolf editors and judge Brigid Hughes of A Public Space. In addition to publication, the prize comes with a $12,000 advance.

 

Wang’s brilliant essays in The Collected Schizophrenias address the disease from the perspective of one who has first-hand experience. Wang cogently and powerfully breaks open the social, historical, medical, and spiritual aspects of schizophrenia as she tackles everything from Andrew Solomon’s Far from the Tree and the murder of Malcoum Tate, to how genetics informed her choice to remain childless and her fashion-sense as a “high-functioning” individual, and does it all in poised and effortless prose.

 

“As a writer and essayist, I’ve been slowly building a reputation as someone who writes about mental illness, and particularly schizophrenia, with my eye on ultimately creating a cohesive collection about living with a psychotic disorder,” Wang said. “To say that I’m happy about my essay collection finding a home with Graywolf is a vast understatement; Graywolf’s literary reputation, particularly as a publisher of quality nonfiction, is one that I’m thoroughly proud to have backing The Collected Schizophrenias.”

 

“In these remarkable essays, Esmé Weijun Wang writes not with the distance of an observer but from experience to challenge the common narratives about schizophrenia,” said judge Brigid Hughes. “Combining research and reportage with the personal to make the abstract palpably real, she is a generous and deeply intelligent guide through the complexities of illness and understanding of the self. I'm thrilled to see The Collected Schizophrenias receive the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize and join other daringly ambitious books like Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams and Eula Biss's Notes from No Man’s Land on the list.”

 

The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize is designed to honor and encourage the art of literary nonfiction, and is given to an outstanding manuscript by a writer who is not yet established in the genre. The forthcoming prizewinner, Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here by Angela Palm will be published in August. The previous winner Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight by Margaret Lazarus Dean was a New York Times Best of 2015 selection by critic Michiko Kakutani. Additional previous winners of the prize include Leslie Jamison, Eula Biss, Kevin Young, Ander Monson, and others.

 

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Esmé Weijun Wang is an essayist and the author of The Border of Paradise: A Novel. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, she received her MFA from the University of Michigan, and has been awarded the Sudler Award, Hopwood Award for Novel-in-Progress, and the Elizabeth George Foundation Grant; her work has appeared in Salon, Catapult, Hazlitt, the Believer, and Jezebel. 

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The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize is funded in part by endowed gifts from the Arsham Ohanessian Charitable Remainder Unitrust and the Ruth Easton Fund of the Edelstein Family Foundation.