Alexander Chee

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in The United States


Anne Carson, James Baldwin, Paul Bowles, Jane Bowles, Denis Johnson, G ...more

Member Since
June 2007

"Alexander Chee is the best new novelist I've seen in some time. Edinburgh is moody, dramatic - and pure."--Edmund White

“A complex, sophisticated, elegant investigation of trauma and desire - like a white hot flame.”--Joyce Hackett, in The Guardian

“A coming-of-age novel in the grand Romantic tradition, where passions run high, Cupid stalks Psyche, and love shares the dance floor with death . . . A lovely, nuanced, never predictable portrait of a creative soul in the throes of becoming.”--Washington Post Book World

Alexander Chee was born in South Kingston, RI, and raised in South Korea, Guam, Truk and Maine. He attended Wesleyan University and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, an NEA F

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Alexander Chee For me, writer's block means I've somehow rejected my own ideas as improbable, or unacceptable, or otherwise unthinkable. And so to deal with it I…moreFor me, writer's block means I've somehow rejected my own ideas as improbable, or unacceptable, or otherwise unthinkable. And so to deal with it I have to deal with why that is. Like many people, I have the belief that keeping myself silent in certain situations will make me invisible or will somehow protect me. When I want to silence myself, I fear myself. So I move toward the block that way: what do I fear will happen if I write this? Is that an honest fear or a dishonest one? The problem with having an imagination is that you can scare yourself out of your whole life if you're not careful. You can imagine a story or imagine yourself as a failure--both are stories, only one can be published. The other is you, blocking the door to your own life. (less)
Alexander Chee When, at an event, a stranger thanks you, with great feeling, for writing the novel you wrote, and you can tell it means more to them than they can…moreWhen, at an event, a stranger thanks you, with great feeling, for writing the novel you wrote, and you can tell it means more to them than they can say, and this, in turn, means more to me than I can say. (less)
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More books by Alexander Chee…

The Queen of the Night, my new novel out February 2nd, has made the best of 2016 preview lists for Book Riot, Bookish, Bustle, BBC Books, Huffington Post BooksBrooklyn Mag and Entertainment Weekly.


Last year at this time my biggest fear was that I could work on a novel all this time and no one would care. I’m incredibly happy and grateful about this reception.

Some early praise for The Queen o...

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A Gate at the Stairs
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What is Remembered
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Alexander Alexander said: " I ran into friends at a cafe and they asked me how this was, and to my surprise I had quite a bit to say about it.

First off, I have to say I find it to be written with an incredible level of compression. Second, like the autobiographical writings of
...more "

The Beast Within
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Alexander’s Recent Updates

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee
"Conversational, but thoughtful, Alexander Chee’s collection of personal essays consistently demonstrates an interest in empathy, in earnestly engaging with the world. Chee moves at a measured pace in these essays, steadily drifting from subject to..." Read more of this review »
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee
"I savored this book. It’s a gift. The Guardians is one of the best essays I’ve ever read. "
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee
"What an astounding collection of essays. The only way I can think to describe it at the moment is just to write the word deeply, over and over again, followed by many other words: deeply beautiful, insightful, generous, courageous, precise, wise,..." Read more of this review »
Alexander rated a book it was amazing
Monstress, Vol. 2 by Marjorie M. Liu
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Alexander rated a book it was amazing
Saga, Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan
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Alexander has read
Saga, Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan
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Monstress, Vol. 2 by Marjorie M. Liu
More of Alexander's books…
“Men often complain of the wickedness of women. Of how we delight in what power we have over their hearts. But they reign over everything else, so of course, they grudge us this, should we ever come to rule over this thing the size of their fist.”
Alexander Chee, The Queen of the Night

“When the earth opens up under your feet, be like a seed. Fall down; wait for the rain.”
Alexander Chee, The Queen of the Night

“And the gods did not kill for hubris-for hubris, they let you live long enough to learn.”
Alexander Chee, The Queen of the Night


Jane and I were discussing The Morning News Tournament of Books during one of the weekly chats and we decided to pick one of the books from their list for our March read. I'm choosing a selection of books from the long list. (You can check out details on this yearly tournament here: This poll will be open for one week. Last day to vote...Saturday, February 11.

  3 votes, 37.5%

My Name Is Lucy Barton My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout Elizabeth Strout
  2 votes, 25.0%

The Fireman The Fireman by Joe Hill Joe Hill
  2 votes, 25.0%

Commonwealth Commonwealth by Ann Patchett Ann Patchett
  1 vote, 12.5%

All the Birds in the Sky All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders Charlie Jane Anders
  0 votes, 0.0%

The Wonder The Wonder by Emma Donoghue Emma Donoghue
  0 votes, 0.0%

The Girls The Girls by Emma Cline Emma Cline
  0 votes, 0.0%

The Queen of the Night The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee Alexander Chee
  0 votes, 0.0%

Margaret the First Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton Danielle Dutton
  0 votes, 0.0%

The High Mountains of Portugal The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel Yann Martel
  0 votes, 0.0%


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message 19: by Hilary

Hilary Hi, and thanks for the add! I came across your profile today when I was thining back to taking your lecture during one of the runs of the Wesleyan Conference a few years back. I really enjoyed what you taught/showed the students--I remember one of your assignments being to compose a pantoum, something new to me--and I read Edinburgh after the conference. Cheers!

message 18: by Jeannie

Jeannie Faulkner Barber Hi Alexander...hope you had a great holiday and thanks for adding me as a friend.

message 17: by Jessica

Jessica Alexander:
thanks for the sympathy!
maybe I'll add one of your books to my list as well for even more (sympathy)!!
all best,

message 16: by W.B.

W.B. Is it just me, or did you just pick up a couple of distinguished awards very recently?

message 15: by James

James Alex-
It's good "running into you" here. Hope all is well with you and your writing.

message 14: by W.B. (last edited Feb 18, 2008 11:08AM)

W.B. Cher Soldat Alexandre,


Most seem to think it's either 1)acting out a Berber subplot from a Paul Bowles novel 2)playing Commandante or 3)a stick friend said he instantly reached for his wallet to surrender it.

I was actually pretending I was Bazooka Joe for some self-portraits. Remember him? Remember how unfunny those comics wrapped around the gum were. Dry as the gum dust on them.

Getting up at 4 a.m. for monday work: lousy

tripping over terra cotta bunny going through backyard at 4:18 a.m.: Sucky

getting out of work at 1 pm, encountering no traffic coming home and sipping on a Smirnoff Raw Tea at 2:12 p.m.? Priceless!

lol...oooh Sanvaean is on! Lisa Gerard is a goddess. I was accused of being a devil worshipper for playing her at work once. I was just singing along with Liz Phair about taking someone's that's a rangy collection lyrics-wise...i can't sing along with Lisa...who the hell can...

I bought a movie camera and am making my first film tonight...i already have it in my mind's eye and ear...hope it comes off...

Hope you are furiously writing but without, like, the fury...only the furor...cacoethes scribendi is I believe the technical term...

ooh cake is media player knows and loves me....


xo B.

message 13: by W.B.

W.B. I just wanted to say, Alexander, that you look very hot in your photos.

Because you look so composed.

You look very relaxed in the world but prepared for the horrible struggles that will follow.

You will shrug like Caligula.

And say...."And?...."

That's hot.

I am W. (the good...well less evil one) and I approve this message.

Don't worry. I unclicked the fucking Update Feed button.


message 12: by W.B. (last edited Jan 24, 2008 02:11PM)

W.B. You scared me when you said "Click with great care."

I heard in it a Brothers Grimm voice and suddenly I felt a forest looming up all about me...

A forest of cat eaters and dragon prodigies walked on leashes by corporate drones.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Then I realized I belonged there and metamorphosed into a wolf and went looking for a magic purveyor of sushi.

The Grimms are all about the sushi.

message 11: by W.B.

W.B. I probably thought it said Pasolini.

That would interest me.

I don't Paolini from Paolo & Francesca or payola.

message 10: by W.B.

W.B. Alexander, I am not a joiner...really I'm not lol.

But when you get the's like you click on it to see what the group is and YOU'VE INSTANTLY JOINED...

I keep forgetting this.

And once I've joined it's too late. I'm too lazy to reverse my membership.

I still have no idea what the CATS group is. I think it might be an Asian swingers club. Or it might be about eating cats, because the moderator jovially talked about eating cat curry...curry cat?...whatever...

Every so often I ask Dana, "Hey Dana, are we still in the cat eating club?'

Still the moderator seems like a nice guy (gal?) I don't believe I've ever I'm happy to "swell his throng" or whatever.

Maybe I am in a group that will help to topple an East Asian despotism.

That would be nice.

And to think I did it while sitting in my living room eating sushi and scratching my meat and two veg.

message 9: by W.B.

W.B. You made me laugh. Emma never had to worry about an "update feed," thank god.

Oh wait, that's what they called the neighbors & townspeople back in those days!

Apothecaries are hot.

She should have done him instead.

message 8: by W.B.

W.B. I'm feeling just a little bit Bovary tonight. Je me sens un peu "Bovary" ce soir. Would you recommend arsenic or a shopping spree. Will Charles know if I go to Rodolphe? Will Rodolphe ever care about a human being other than as an abstract acquisition.

What is the Flaubert quote...Life is a comedy to those who think but a tragedy to those who feel?


Jeremy I want to apologize for the all the recommendations from me today. I wanted to share the Stoker Award news, and I only pressed the send button once--I'm not sure what happened to create so many messages. Some weird glitch.

Argh...this is terrible...

Again, I'm very sorry.


message 6: by W.B.

W.B. It is good to see my friend Alexander the Soldier about.

I am listening to Bobby McFerrin mouth Concerto in D Minor in a really convincing way.

Now my media player just went to K.D. doing something even more convincing from Ingenue.

K.D., Cmere. She makes my legs so wobbly.

Now, that's a mensch. :-)

message 5: by W.B.

W.B. I feel I may need a serious smudging.

Jeremy Here’s wishing you a nifty New Year filled with noiseless noses, neato nicknames, noble Nebraskans, gnarly narcoleptic nebulas, and novel novels about nut-eating narwhals and novercaphobic gnats.

-Jeremy :)

P.S.—I’m currently offering autographed/personally-inscribed copies of my novel, Vacation, with free shipping for those in the US. If there’s anything you could do to help me spread the word about this, I’d really appreciate it. Feel free to click here for details:

message 3: by Stephen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:55AM)

Stephen thanks for the add!

hope you're doing well!

i finally got a "real" job! no longer in postdoc limbo

message 2: by Susan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:23AM)

Susan Henderson I like looking around on your bookshelf, Alex.


message 1: by Lance (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:21AM)

Lance Reynald it's kinda like sneaking into the library late at night and finding all the cool stuff.


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