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9 questions with Celeste Ng

The novelist on goat cheese and explaining racism to a 6-year-old.

Javier Zarracina

This week, Celeste Ng — novelist, short story writer, and author of Little Fires Everywhere — answers our questions.

What’s the first piece of media you consume every day?

NPR’s morning edition, on WBUR (the Boston affiliate). My husband’s clock-radio alarm is set to the station.

Name a writer or publication you disagree with but still read.

Well, I almost never agree with anything anyone in the current administration says, but I read their press releases and interviews and late-night tweets regularly, because I need to stay informed.

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?

My 6-year-old son. He asks a lot of big questions — “Why would people think someone with darker skin isn’t as good as somebody with lighter skin?” — so I have had to learn to answer big questions simply and honestly.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?

Probably about 10 minutes ago when I decided to eat leftovers instead of buying something. Less facetiously: I’m always probing at my opinions, testing their stability, seeing if they hold up in the face of new experience and new evidence.

What’s your worst intellectual habit?

I don’t believe anything is black and white, so I’m always searching for nuance. On the whole I think this is a positive thing, but it also means I almost never give an unqualified answer.

What inspires you to learn?

The world is an interesting place, and human beings in particular are weird and funny and wonderful and fascinating. How can you not want to learn about them?

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?

That if I make a positive difference for one person, the day was well spent.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?

Goat cheese is gross. But I mean, you can have my share if you like it.

What book have you recommended the most?

The God of Small Things and The Bluest Eye.

You can read last week’s edition of 9 Questions with Laleh Khadivi here.

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