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Trailblazing author and mental health advocate Esmé Weijun Wang will speak on shattering limits at free event on April 17

Posted: 03/30/23

Trailblazing author and mental health advocate Esmé Weijun Wang will speak on shattering limits at free event on April 17

New York Times bestselling author Esmé Weijun Wang will share her experience of creating a legacy while living with chronic illness in a free Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS) Committee-hosted talk on April 17 at 7 p.m. in the Concerto and Overture Rooms at Gordon Dining and Event Center. 

The event, titled “An Evening with Esmé Weijun Wang - Success Redefined: Breaking the Stigma Around Mental Health,” will include a 60-minute lecture followed by a 30-minute Q&A with Wang. The event is free and open to the public, with no tickets necessary. The lecture will also include CART captioning and American Sign Language interpreters. 

The event will be followed by a book signing from 9-10 p.m., featuring Wang’s 2016 fictional gothic multigenerational novel “The Border of Paradise,” which explores the struggles of neurosis within a family and the complex stigmatization of mental health. 

Wang is the recipient of the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize and the Whiting Award for Nonfiction for “The Collected Schizophrenias,” her 2019 essay collection that candidly chronicles her personal experiences with the effects of late-stage Lyme disease and schizoaffective disorder, among other mental health topics. 

“I hope that it helps people living with the schizophrenias to feel less alone, and that it helps people who know and love people living with the schizophrenias to better understand those people,” Wang said about “The Collected Schizophrenias” in an interview with the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. “I hope that it kickstarts conversations about how we treat people, including public policy and general human interaction. I hope that we start to talk about the questions the book brings up, and to ask even more questions still.”

In addition to being an acclaimed essayist, Wang is the founder of The Unexpected Shape Writing Academy, which offers an affordable and accessible alternative to typical Master of Fine Arts programs, taking individuals through the process behind crafting and publishing a written work. The program is built for students interested in writing about difficult personal topics – such as identity or mental health – while providing flexibility and support for marginalized voices, such as those with chronic illness or disabilities.

The WUD DLS Committee brings engaging and influential people to the UW–Madison campus to encourage thought-provoking conversations. WUD includes 11 committees and six Wisconsin Hoofers clubs that program thousands of events each year.

Patrons can learn more about the upcoming free talk featuring Wang here.

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