Alexander Chee

American writer

Alexander Chee (born August 21, 1967) is an American fiction writer, poet, journalist and reviewer.

Alexander Chee in 2018


  • I did something with my first novel that I think a lot of debut novelists do, which is they act as if it was a freak accident that they wrote it. They sort of disown it or whatever. When they’re like, well, you know, I don’t really know I did that, even though they worked for years to get the book done, get the book out. All of that. They don’t claim the victory. It somehow feels obnoxious to them or that they’re being a dick, or whatever sort of class background they come from doesn’t allow them to have that celebration or who knows…
  • I think fiction is the thing you invent to fit the shape of what you learned and nonfiction is the thing you invent to fit the shape of what you found or maybe even what you can’t run away from…
  • There’s some way of thinking about how the body can be articulate that translates into how you tell stories on the page. I don’t know if it goes the other way. I’d love it if it did. The body is the instrument for the essayist in particular. It’s the instrument by which the events are recorded; it’s the instrument on which the events are replayed. It’s a very complicated, interdimensional relationship we have with our bodies when we’re nonfiction writers.
  • There is a difference. I will write an essay without quite knowing where it’s going to go. But also with an essay, I’m kind of communicating with who I used to be or really searching for that person. There’s different tricks that I come to to help with remembering some of those things. Sometimes I look at my old writing to see what I was trying to do and what can be recuperated. But I also look at my book. My books are ways of remembering my life as well. The book is a memory of a particular time when I bought or read it. I think it’s why it’s so hard for people to combine libraries when they get together with someone. It’s like, your personal library becomes this unconscious portrait of your intellectual history.
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