Celeste Ng (Kieran Kesner)

Bestselling author Celeste Ng to speak at Cornerstone Conversations

February 12 event is part of ϱ's Cornerstone Seminar Programs for first-year students

Bestselling and multiple award-winning American writer Celeste Ng— author of the novels Everything I Never Told You, Little Fires EverywhereOur Missing Hearts—will speak on campus this month as part of Cornerstone Conversations for first-year students.

Sponsored by the Cornerstone Seminar Program, English Department, and Asian American Studies Program, the event will take place Monday, February 12, at 7 p.m. in Gasson Hall 100.

Celeste Ng book covers

Ng's first novel, Everything I Never Told You, was a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book of 2014, as well as Amazon’s #1 Best Book of the year, and winner of the Massachusetts Book Award and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, among other honors. Translated into more than 30 languages, the book is being adapted for the screen.

Little Fires Everywhere was a #1 New York Times bestseller, a #1 Indie Next bestseller, and Amazon's Best Fiction Book of 2017. It was named a best book of the year by more than 25 publications, is a winner of the Ohioana Award and the Goodreads Readers Choice Award in Fiction, and spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list. It, too, has been published in more than 30 languages, and has been adapted as a limited series on Hulu, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

Her third novel, Our Missing Hearts, was published in October 2022 and was an instant New York Times bestseller.   

A graduate of Harvard University with an M.F.A. from the University of Michigan, Ng's fiction and essays also have appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, and many other publications, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other honors.

"This event has been a longtime in the making," said Elizabeth "Biz" Bracher, director of the Cornerstone Seminar Programs, a group of unique courses that offer first-year students the chance to explore a particular area of interest with a faculty member in a small group setting. 

Updated portrait of Biz Bracher, director of the Courage to Know Program.

Elizabeth "Biz" Bracher (Lee Pellegrini)

"I have been trying to get Celeste Ng to come to ϱ for many years now," Bracher said, adding that many of the faculty members in The Courage to Know, a Cornerstone Seminar course that focuses on fundamental formational questions, have been including class discussions of Everything I Never Told You since it was first published in 2014.

The book, which tells the story of the Chinese American Lee family, who live in 1970s small-town Ohio, "is a thoughtfully crafted story about race, class, gender, ethnicity, and education, and the parental and societal expectations that mitigate how we understand ourselves and sometimes fail to understand others," Bracher said.

"First-year students can relate to the pressures and misunderstandings that come as a result of the Lee family's failure to communicate openly and honestly with each other about who they each are and who they each hope to become," Bracher said. "It takes courage to be who we are meant to be: to be attentive to the consolations and desolations of life, to reflect on the meaning of these joys and disappointments, and to ultimately live the life that lives within each of us. It is what this Jesuit education is all about and it starts in the first year."

While the event is open to all, Bracher said, she is especially happy to introduce first-year students to such a prolific and popular writer.

"Part of the value of coming to a university like Boston College is to have access to the world-class educators and practitioners not only from within our ϱ community, but also to those across the world who are excited to come to ϱ and engage our students and faculty in the most important questions of what it means to be human."