Penguin Press announced that it will publish Celeste Ng’s new novel, OUR MISSING HEARTS, on October 4, 2022. Ng is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and her work has been published in over thirty languages.
“We’re so thrilled to share Celeste Ng’s brilliant third novel with readers,” says Ginny Smith Younce, Executive Editor, Penguin Press. “OUR MISSING HEARTS is the story of the love between a mother and her child, but it’s also the story of a society that has allowed itself to be consumed by authoritarianism, by racism, by fear. Celeste has once again given us a gorgeous, devastating portrait of family, and she’s also crafted the critique of this moment in America that we so desperately need.”
Celeste Ng says: “I started off simply writing a book about a mother and a son, but soon found myself wrestling with questions raised by the larger reckonings taking place—or being avoided—in the past few years. Can we actually make a difference? How can we teach our children to make the world better when we ourselves have failed to do so? To me, OUR MISSING HEARTS is about keeping a sense of shared humanity alive in dark, cynical, and isolating times, and I hope it resonates with readers.”
In OUR MISSING HEARTS, twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in Harvard University’s library. Bird knows to not ask too many questions, stand out too much, or stray too far. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” in the wake of years of economic instability and violence. To keep the peace and restore prosperity, the authorities are now allowed to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic—including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was nine years old.
Bird has grown up disavowing his mother and her poems; he doesn’t know her work or what happened to her, and he knows he shouldn’t wonder. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is drawn into a quest to find her. His journey will take him back to the many folktales she poured into his head as a child, through the ranks of an underground network of librarians, into the lives of the children who have been taken, and finally to New York City, where a new act of defiance may be the beginning of much-needed change.
OUR MISSING HEARTS is an old story made new, of the ways supposedly civilized communities can ignore the most searing injustice. It’s a story about the power—and limitations—of art to create change, the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact.