Would You Write a Novel About Your Hometown?

In her new book, Little Fires Everywhere, novelist Celeste Ng, opens a new window exposes her hometown's secrets.

Writing the Truth

Being a novelist must be tough work, especially if you're writing about people and places you know really well. People are going to inevitably recognize themselves in your work. The good things, of course. But more notably, the cringeworthy stuff is going to take center stage. Are people going to like it? How truthful can you possibly be?

Librarian Shout Out

Celeste Ng seems to be handling it well. She set her latest book, Little Fires Everywhere, in her hometown of Shaker Heights, Ohio. She even planned to have a big book release party at a Shaker Heights bookstore--but she ended up rescheduling it to be on Late Night with Seth Meyers, opens a new window.


It's a good interview; she talks about the novel's big topics: race, adolescence, and a structured way of life. (And Halloween!) While preparing for the book, she learned so much about the Shakers. She spent lots of time at the Shaker Heights Public Library, opens a new window conducting research and gives a shout out to the "local history librarians who do the job when nobody else can." Aww.

A Quietly Dramatic Book

Yeah, the book starts out with a teen burning her family's house down. But despite this dramatic opening, the rest of the book is languidly paced, almost a literary mystery. It's fascinating to figure out what drives its various characters--namely those who are born to follow rules and lead predictable lives versus those who feel like they want to constantly test the limits and break boundaries.

It's a great novel, and a satisfying follow up to her debut, Everything I Never Told You.

Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere

Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You

Have you read Celeste Ng's books? What did you think? Comment below.