Ng told the Guardian that much of the racism explored by the Chinese American family in her book is based on personal experience and observation.
Yet she admits she was hesitant to take on the subject.
“It was me not yet feeling comfortable about writing about my own culture,” said Ng. “Though I do feel a kinship, I didn’t grow up in China, I don’t speak Cantonese. Since I always felt a little bit of an imposter writing about Chinese culture, it was sort of a surprise that it ended up part of this novel.”
But in the end, it felt good to get her story out although she says her book isn’t autobiographical.
“Writing is like shouting into the world,” she says. “So when someone shouts back, it’s a really big deal. To have people who read hundreds and hundreds of books a year say, ‘Hey, we thought this was really great,’ that’s a huge self-esteem boost. All of this attention means, hopefully, I’ll be able to write another book.”
Ng shares a little about herself in a message directed at librarians in the video below. You can read about why she feels ambivalent about winning the award from Amazon in the Guardian.