Celeste Ng Visits Lynchburg

Grace Cavanaugh ~ Staff Writer

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Celeste Ng, photo by Kevin Day Photography

On Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 Celeste Ng will be visiting the University of Lynchburg for a question and answer session, a reading and book signing.

Celeste Ng is the author of Everything I Never Told You, published in 2014, and Little Fires Everywhere, published in 2017. Dr. Richard Burke, professor of English, said, “They [the books] both deal with family dynamics with the pleasure, but more the stresses, the challenges of family life.”

According to the University of Lynchburg’s website, “Ng’s novels have attracted a huge number of fans in a relatively short time. Her first book, Everything I Never Told You, was a New York Times bestseller and Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014. Her next novel, Little Fires Everywhere, won the Massachusetts Book Award and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature.”

The website continued saying, “Dr. Robin Bates included Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere in one of her English classes. The students enjoyed the multiple, intertwined storylines and felt the book was accessible and current, even though it was set in the 1990s.”

Burke said, “The more recent one, we see the wealthy family with four teenage children. We see a very traditional family, two parents four children. We see a less traditional family, the single mother with one daughter. You see other variations on families like some family that has adopted a child.”

“Both books are mysteries of a sort,” said Burke. “The first one more so than the second one, but in both cases there is now what appears to be a crime and you need to read to the end of the book to find out about the nature or origin of that event.”

About the reading and the signing, Burke said, “It is a diverging from what it typical. […] She is going to read, just briefly, maybe 10 minutes, from what she has written, and then she will take part in what her agent, at least, calls a fireside chat […] about her books, about writing, about anything that may be of interest to her, to the audience.”

“The advantage of this is that the audience will get a lot more insight into what she thinks and how she works and what her interests are than they would get if she just read from her book,” Burke finished.

An email sent on March 6th, 2019  stated, “Little Fires Everywhere […] will be made into a mini-series on Hulu starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.”

“The event is free and open to the public,” read the University’s website. Dr. Burke also commented on this, stating, “I have heard from a number of different people around town that they read this book in their book groups and they are excited and they are all going to come or they are planning to come, so I do expect there will be plenty of people from town and not just from campus.”

Both events, the reading and the Q&A, will be held in Sydnor Performance Hall on the bottom floor of Schewel Hall, which has limited seating. Dr. Burke would advise people to come early if they want a seat. “I am concerned about [the number of people coming],” he said. “I think [Sydnor Performance Hall] holds about 225 people.”

The Q&A session will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and the reading will be held at 7:30 p.m. with a book signing afterwards. Books will be available for purchase at the event. For more information on the books and Celeste Ng, please visit her website at https://www.celesteng.com/.