Alexander Chee: How to Write an
Autobiographical Novel

“The act of trying to tell a story introduces you to what matters to you. It teaches you something that you needed to know.”

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What’s in your junk drawer? For writer Alexander Chee, answering that question resulted in a critically-acclaimed collection of essays called “How To Write An Autobiographical Novel.”  Alex sits down with host Amanda Stern to talk about personal growth, what we can learn from roses, fair pay in the workplace, and divining the mysteries of the universe through tarot.

Alexander Chee is the author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, and the essay collection How To Write An Autobiographical Novel, all from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic, and an editor at large at VQR. His essays and stories have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, T Magazine, Tin House, Slate, and Guernica, among others. He is the winner of a 2003 Whiting Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in prose and a 2010 MCCA Fellowship, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the VCCA, Civitella Ranieri and Amtrak. Chee is an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College.

About the Host

Amanda Stern is Bookable’s host. Founder of the popular literary event series Happy Ending at Joe’s Pub in New York City, Stern is also a writer. Happy Ending ran for more than a decade and was selected as New York’s best book-related series by New York Magazine, The Village Voice and NY Press. The New York Times Magazine singled out Happy Ending as a force keeping “downtown New York alive.”


This episode was produced, mixed, and sound-designed by Andrew Dunn, with editorial help from Beau Friedlander.  Our host and co-producer is Amanda Stern. Author and book cover illustration by Ella Friedlander.

“Rufus Canis” by Rufus Canis, “Timeless Love” by Joonie, “The Finch” by Rufus Canis, “Bloom” by Brian Sussman, “Anti Atlas” by Angele David Guillou, “Better” by Jackie Hill Perry, “Uni Swing Vox” by Rufus Canis, “Grin” by JPoetic.

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