My essay collection, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, comes out this April 24th, 2018 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, with a launch event at Books Are Magic that day in Brooklyn, NY. Advance reading copies are available starting October 24th. Please contact Dani Spencer at HMH for a copy if interested. Tour dates will be announced shortly. For speaking engagements, please contact Trinity Ray at the Tuesday Agency.
I had the honor of profiling the Korean film director Park Chan-wook for T Magazine's The Greats Issue, and it is one of the seven cover stories. Photographs for the story are by the amazing photographer Oh Suk Kuhn.
The summer I learned to take a vacation, even from writing, for the New York Times Travel "Firsts" series.
I wrote about a 2008 trip to Grenada, Spain, and what I learned about the city, myself, and the man I was with, for New York Times Travel.
I wrote about my year of singing along to Rufus Wainwright's music for The New York Times Sunday Magazine Future of Music Issue.
The Queen of the Night came out February 2nd of 2016, and made the best of 2016 preview lists for WIRED, Travel + Leisure, Elle, Book Riot, Bookish, Bustle, BBC Books, Huffington Post Books, Brooklyn Mag, The Millions, Chicago Reader, Flavorwire, Kirkus Reviews, BOMB, Buzzfeed, and Entertainment Weekly.
- I went on Late Night With Seth Myers to talk about The Queen of the Night, 2/3/16. Thank you to Seth and the staff of LNSM, it was wonderful.
- The Queen of the Night is now in a ninth printing.
- The UK edition from Michael James is out now.
- "The Queen of the Night is sprawling, soaring, bawdy, and plotted like a fine embroidery." Thank you to Scott Simon of NPR's Weekend Edition for having me on the show.
- The first chapter is available at Longreads. A second shorter excerpt is over at Guernica Magazine's PEN/Guernica partnership.
- Blackstone, my audiobook publisher, has put a 30 minute excerpt of Queen online, featuring the soprano Lisa Flanagan, who I chose as the voice of the audiobook.
- Sam Sacks of the Wall Street Journal reviewed Queen: "...readers willing to submit to the spell of this glittering, luxuriantly paced novel will find that it rewards their attention, from its opening mysteries to its satisfying full-circle finale. Mr. Chee could be speaking of his own work when he exalts 'the ridiculous and beloved thief that is opera—the singer who sneaks into the palace of your heart and somehow enters the stage singing aloud the secret hope or love or grief you always hoped would stay secret, disguised as melodrama.' The highest compliment one can pay to this is that it is easy to imagine a version triumphing on stage."
- Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Natalie Bakopoulos calls Queen "remarkable" and says "The Queen of the Night blurs the lines between reality and art and the boundaries of narration."
- Slate reviewed Queen, calling it "operatically elaborate, enthralling... like Verdi's 'La Forza Del Destino' in its twists and turns."
- Ester Bloom writing for The Barnes and Noble Review calls Queen "a book that feels in many ways like Thackeray's Vanity Fair."
- Bill Tipper of The Barnes and Noble Review Queen interviewed me, calling the novel "something of the grand adventure of The Count of Monte Cristo, but throughout Chee fills his reader's ear with Lilliet's voice: elegiac and undaunted..."
- At The Awl, Jane Hu and I spoke about Queen, the way History and Fate are weird mirrors to each other, and how my novel is historical fiction but not, strictly speaking, realism.
- Marian Ryan, the copyeditor on Queen back in 2013, interviewed me over my decision to pull the novel back in 2013, for Slate.
- In The New Republic's March 2016 issue, my essay, "Children of the Century," on Historical Fiction.
Some early praise for The Queen of the Night:
“A night at an opera you’ll wish never-ending.”
–Helen Oyeyemi, author of Mr. Fox and Boy Snow Bird
“One doesn’t so much read Alexander Chee’s The Queen of the Night as one is bewitched by it. Beneath its epic sweep, gorgeous language, and haunting details is the most elemental, and eternal, of narratives: that of the necessities and perils of self-reinvention, and the sorrow and giddiness of aspiring to a life of artistic transcendance.”
–Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life and People In The Trees
“The Queen of the Night is a luminous universe into which its lucky readers can dissolve completely, metamorphosing alongside its shapeshifting protagonist. Lilliet Berne steals her name from a gravestone and launches into a life of full-throated song; her voice is an intoxicant, and this book is a glorious performance. Chee’s enveloping, seductive prose is perfectly matched to the circus world of the opera.”
–Karen Russell, New York Times Best Selling author of Swamplandia! and Vampires In The Lemon Grove
“Alexander Chee packs his extraordinary second novel, The Queen of the Night, to the seams with music, love, misery, and secrets. The kind of book—world—characters—you could live inside, happily, for days and days and never once want to come up for air.”
–Kelly Link, author of Get In Trouble and Magic For Beginners
“A mesmerizing tale of power and passion. Chee gives us an unforgettable heroine and a rich cast of characters—many of them real historical figures. The story dazzles and surprises right up until the final page.”
–J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times Best-Selling author of Maine and The Engagements
“Richly researched, ornately plotted, this story demands, and repays, close attention.”
–Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Chee’s lush and sweeping second novel uses a strikingly different setting from his accomplished debut, Edinburgh, but shares its musical themes and boldness… a moving meditation on the transformative power of fate, art, time, and sheer survival.”
When renowned soprano Lilliet Berne, the toast of Belle Epoque Paris, is offered the role of a lifetime in an original opera, she is shocked to realize that the libretto seems to be based on her own life. After reinventing herself and carefully shrouding the secrets of her early years, she believed she had moved away from the scandal, shame, and intrigue of her youth forever. Reaching back into time, she recalls her Minnesota childhood, her escape to Paris, her adventures as a hippodrome rider, her career as a courtesan, her stint as a spy, and her meteoric rise through the cutthroat ranks of the opera world. In order to unravel the mystery of who has betrayed her, she reviews her entire entangled history, recalling the twists and turns of her own life as well as the sweeping history of an era along the way. Peppering the unfolding plot with real-life events and figures, Chee provides a suitably operatic backdrop for the mesmerizing novel.
If you’re just arriving to this blog for the first time after reading one of these items, thank you and hello. You can pre-order the novel here at your favorite bookseller.