Sandra Allen visits The Bindery to read from her first book, A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story about Schizophrenia. Joining her in conversation is Esmé Weijun Wang (The Border of Paradise). Don't miss it!
Sandra Allen did not know her uncle Bob very well. As a child, she had been told he was “crazy,” that he had spent time in mental hospitals while growing up in Berkeley in the 60s and 70s. But Bob had lived a hermetic life in a remote part of California for longer than she had been alive, and what little she knew of him came from rare family reunions or odd, infrequent phone calls. Then in 2009 Bob mailed her his autobiography. Typewritten in all caps, a stream of error-riddled sentences over sixty, single-spaced pages, the often incomprehensible manuscript proclaimed to be a “true story” about being “labeled a psychotic paranoid schizophrenic,” and arrived with a plea to help him get his story out to the world.
In A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise, Allen translates her uncle’s autobiography, artfully creating a gripping coming-of-age story while sticking faithfully to the facts as he shared them. Lacing Bob’s narrative with chapters providing greater contextualization, Allen also shares background information about her family, the culturally explosive time and place of her uncle’s formative years, and the vitally important questions surrounding schizophrenia and mental healthcare in America more broadly. The result is a heartbreaking and sometimes hilarious portrait of a young man striving for stability in his life as well as his mind, and an utterly unique lens into an experience that, to most people, remains unimaginable.
“This book is an act of radical empathy through which the author—and, vicariously, the reader—enters intimately into a life that would otherwise be unintelligible.” – Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down and The Wine Lover’s Daughter
Sandra Allen grew up in Muir Beach, California. She attended Brown University and received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Iowa. A former BuzzFeed editor, she lives in New York. A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story about Schizophrenia is her first book.
Esmé Weijun Wang is a novelist and essayist. Her debut novel, The Border of Paradise, was called a Best Book of 2016 by NPR and one of the 25 Best Novels of 2016 by Electric Literature. She was named by Granta as one of the “Best of Young American Novelists” in 2017, and is the recipient of the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize for her forthcoming essay collection, The Collected Schizophrenias. Born in the Midwest to Taiwanese parents, she lives in San Francisco, and can be found at esmewang.com and on Twitter @esmewang.