Festival Five with NSK Juror Randy Ribay

September 29, 2020


A photograph of NSK Juror Randy Ribay juxtaposed against the logo for the 2020 Neustadt Lit Fest

Randy Ribay was born in the Philippines and raised in the Midwest. He’s the author of After the Shot Drops and An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes. His latest book, Patron Saints of Nothing, is a powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder. It has received five-starred reviews and was selected as a National Book Award finalist. Randy earned his BA in English literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his master’s degree in language and literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and teaches high school English.

In addition to serving as a juror for the 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature, Ribay will participate in the Readings and Book Giveaways by the 2021 NSK Prize Jury event.

Q: What was your first favorite book, the book that made you a reader?

A: Hmm, probably the Encylopedia Brown series. I remember devouring those books, with the added bonus of learning to spell “encyclopedia” correctly.

Q: What is the best book-receiving experience you’ve had?

A: I received the box set of the Chronicles of Narnia for Christmas one year, and I remember absolutely loving that. It’s on my shelf just a few feet away from me right now! Though, it turns out I didn’t like Turkish Delight as much as I thought I would.

Q: From among your (likely) tall to-be-read stack, which book or two are you absolutely determined to read soon and why?

A: How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.

Q: What is the book you most often gift children and why?

A: Depends on who it is! I try to find a specific book that they might connect with based on what I know about them.

Q: You teach high school English in San Francisco. If you could pick one book that every high school student in the US would read this school year, what would it be?

A: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

Editorial note: Jason Reynolds is Ribay’s nominee for the 2021 NSK Prize.