Books

Why filmmaker Mina Shum recommends Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

The Vancouver filmmaker and director of Meditation Park gives five reasons why you should read Celeste Ng's novel.
Mina Shum says Celeste Ng's novel is addictive. (CBC)

Vancouver filmmaker Mina Shum's latest work, the 2017 feature Meditation Park, stars Cheng Pei-Pei as Maria, an aging Chinese-Canadian housewife who discovers that her husband has betrayed her. Shum has been making films since her groundbreaking 1994 debut Double Happiness, which helped launch the career of Sandra Oh.

Shum will be featured on CBC's The Filmmakers series, which puts the spotlight on Canadian directors. Her episode airs Saturday, July 28 on CBC-TV and cbc.ca/watch.

Below, Shum tells us why she recommends reading Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

Five reasons you need this in your life:

1. The writing is addictive. I wanted to read everything from Ng after I read this. Her Little Fires Everywhere is being adapted for TV by Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. 

2. The story: 1970s Ohio, one of the first Chinese-American professors in the U.S. marries a liberated princess and the two embark on a life, hoping the world will change but it doesn't. We drop into the story when their 15-year-old mixed-race daughter is found dead in the lake and we figure out how she got there. 

3. I cried. Like cried. 

4. Catharsis is good. And for me, this book has next level storytelling for the Chinese immigrant tale. This novel is fierce. I felt something I recognized in my experience in the world up til now. The story is penetrating, the writing incisive. 

5. Bravo Celeste Ng, a brave and beautiful voice. Long live her storytelling! 

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