Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Eight top campus novels set in grad school

K.D. Walker is a Turkish and Creole writer born and raised in Los Angeles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Pomona College and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Electric Literature, Cultbytes, the Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. In 2023, she was selected as a Tin House Summer Workshop Scholar and a Periplus Collective Fellow.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight novels that "promise to immerse you in the esoteric bubble of graduate programs, the 'dark academia' mood, and that hazy, never-ending desire for 'purpose,'” including:
Chemistry by Weike Wang

In Chemistry, an unnamed, ambitious, quirky narrator pursuing a PhD in Chemistry at Boston University, faces a life-changing decision when her boyfriend, Eric, proposes to her. She answers ambivalently, to Eric’s confusion and disappointment, who then considers taking a job in Ohio. Throughout this state of limbo, the narrator’s seemingly perfect life begins to fall apart. Amidst a mental breakdown, she throws beakers, quits her PhD program, begins drinking, stays out at night, and reimagines her life. Tracing back to her youth, as the only child of Chinese immigrants, the narrator realizes her upbringing hadn’t trained her to accept love as much as it trained her to look at the world with the lens of the scientific method. And throughout the rest of Chemistry, the aimless narrator crawls back to stability and just maybe learns how to finally let love in, or at the very least, which path to pursue next.
Read about another entry on the list.

Chemistry is among Anne Heltzel's seven novels about women who refuse to fit in.

--Marshal Zeringue