The BKBF Interview: Kevin Nguyen

The BKBF Interview continues this week with award-winning author Kevin Nguyen. BKBF interviews Kevin Nguyen, author of the novel, New Waves. This weekly series of Q&As features some of this year’s Festival authors. Tune in on Sunday, October 4 as Kevin Nguyen joins fellow novelists in a BKBF panel discussion. 

Where is your favorite place to read and why?
The subway, *sighs loudly* I miss her.

What book do you return to most often, whether passages or whole?
I actually only came to Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai very recently. I finished it very quickly, and when I got to the last page, began from the beginning again. The copy I had belonged to a friend, so after I returned it, I immediately ordered one of my own. Mostly, I’ll pull it off the shelf in my living room and just read a couple random chapters from the first half.

What’s the last book that had you reading past your bedtime?
I had the good luck of reading an early version of Bryan Washington’s Memorial. It’s incredibly mean and moving. I can’t wait for this book to be in people’s hands this fall—I think there are a lot of readers out there that are gonna flip.

What books are currently piled in your “To Be Read” stack … and where can the stack be found in your home?
With a few friends, we’re reading all of Colson Whitehead from the beginning, so a bunch of his paperbacks are on my nightstand. The plan, which I like, is to group text about the books—no Zoom, no pretenses for drinking wine, etc.

I’ve read maybe half of Whitehead’s books, and mostly the newer ones, and I thought it would be a big commitment—seven novels, two works of nonfiction. But I read The Intuitionist in less than a day (as incredible as everyone said), and now I’m worried I might read everything too quickly.

Tell us your best book-receiving experience.
When I graduated high school, I think two different people gave me a copy of Oh, the Places You’ll Go, like I was… a child. Oh wait, did you say “best” or “worst”?

Kevin Nguyen is the features editor at The Verge and formerly a senior editor at GQ. New Waves is his first novel. He lives in Brooklyn.