Celeste Ng

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Celeste Ng (2018)

Celeste Ng (born July 30, 1980) is an American author.


  • I have an interest in the outsider…In fiction you’re not often writing about the typical, you are interested in outliers, the points of interest. Part of it comes from feeling I was the only Asian or person of colour … another part comes from my personality: I’m an introvert, and my usual survival mode in a large group is to stand by a wall and watch everybody.
  • I think even if I did try to write something that had nothing to do with women or race, which are two pretty broad topics, I don’t know how I would do that. I don’t think there’s a way that I could write a buddy cop drama, or something really far from anything I’ve written, that didn’t have pieces of race and gender. Those are parts of the world we live in, and they are things I think about. It all comes into the voice of your writing, and you can’t write about someone else’s voice. You can only write in your own.
  • Your experience has so much to do with how you view difference and how you approach being in the world. For example, in the grocery store, if someone comes down the aisle, I always preemptively move to the side—I’ve had many experiences where I get a glare or a huffy scolding or even a racial slur if the person feels I’m in the way. My parents did the same; years of experience as part of a racial minority taught them that to be noticed often means being harassed, so they try to avoid attention of any kind. On the other hand my husband, who is white, continues whatever he’s doing. His reasoning is ‘If I’m in the way, they’ll just ask me to move,’ and he’s right. The world treats him differently, so he sees it very differently.
  • When a book is explicitly about how marginalized culture and dominant culture interact, it’s much harder to stay detached and voyeuristic. If you’re white, for instance, you may end up asking yourself hard questions: “What do I think about how these white characters—who resemble me—behave? Do I act this way? What’s my place in the system?” You’re asked to think in terms of the larger picture, and you can’t pretend that a marginalized group’s experience is totally separate and other from yours—because, in fact, it isn’t.
  • (should be on every college syllabus:) Something by a non-white writer, something by a queer writer, and something by a non-American writer. For starters.

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