Alan Cheuse

Alan Cheuse has been reviewing books on All Things Considered since the 1980s. His challenge is to make each two-minute review as fresh and interesting as possible while focusing on the essence of the book itself.

Formally trained as a literary scholar, Cheuse writes fiction and novels and publishes short stories. He is the author of five novels, five collections of short stories and novellas, and the memoir Fall Out of Heaven. His prize-winning novel To Catch the Lightning is an exploration of the intertwined plights of real-life frontier photographer Edward Curtis and the American Indian. His latest work of book-length fiction is the novel Song of Slaves in the Desert, which tells the story of a Jewish rice plantation-owning family in South Carolina and the Africans they enslave. His latest collection of short fiction is An Authentic Captain Marvel Ring and Other Stories. With Caroline Marshall, he has edited two volumes of short stories. A new version of his 1986 novel The Grandmothers' Club will appear in March, 2015 as Prayers for the Living.

With novelist Nicholas Delbanco, Cheuse wrote Literature: Craft & Voice, a major new introduction to literary study. Cheuse's short fiction has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, and The Southern Review. His essay collection, Listening to the Page, appeared in 2001.

Cheuse teaches writing at George Mason University, spends his summers in Santa Cruz, California, and leads fiction workshops at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. He earned his Ph.D. in comparative literature with a focus on Latin American literature from Rutgers University.

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Book Reviews
6:02 am
Thu January 23, 2014

All The Varieties Of Love And Madness, On Display In 'Carthage'

Ecco Books/Harper Collins

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 6:58 pm

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the publication of her first novel, Joyce Carol Oates has outdone herself. This year she will have brought out three books of fiction — a new volume of novellas this past autumn, a new book of stories coming out this spring, and just now a new novel, a feat that testifies to the prodigious nature of her imagination and the unstoppable force of her writing powers.

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Book Reviews
4:25 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Book Review: 'Starting Over,' By Elizabeth Spencer

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 6:44 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Mississippi-born novelist and storywriter Elizabeth Spencer turned 92 last summer. Best known for her novella turned musical drama "The Light in the Piazza," Spencer has just published her 15th work of fiction. It's a collection of stories set in the South called "Starting Over." And we have a review from Alan Cheuse.

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Book Reviews
6:02 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Never Again: 'Trieste' Is A Harrowing Mix Of Memory And Memorial

iStockphoto.com

From Croatia comes a novel titled Trieste, by Dasa Drndic, originally published in Croatian in 2007 and now translated into English by Ellen Elias-Bursac. We might call the novel experimental because of some of the techniques the writer employs. But the story — a mother in search of a child, torn from her in the midst of monstrous warfare — feels ancient.

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Book Reviews
4:27 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Written In Secret Behind The Iron Curtain, 'Corpse' Is Revived

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 7:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The fiction work of Soviet era writer Zigizmund Krzhizhanovsky never saw the light of day in his own time. He was known mostly as a theater, music and literally critic, but he also wrote fables and fiction for more than 20 years, none of which appeared in print until 1989. Well, a new volume of that work called "Autobiography of a Corpse" has just come out here in the U.S. It's translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull, and Alan Cheuse has our review.

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Book Reviews
3:35 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Gene Wolfe Spins A Kafkaesque Travelogue To A Fictional 'Land'

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 7:02 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Gene Wolfe is a novelist in the spirit of Jonathan Swift or Ursula K. Le Guin. He is an inventor of imaginary lands. His latest book, "The Land Across," is about an unnamed Eastern European country and reviewer Alan Cheuse says it would be a better place to visit than to live.

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Books
3:20 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Three Books Alan Cheuse Thinks You Should Read This Winter

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 7:06 pm

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And we end this hour with a little help for your holiday shopping. It's time for our December don't miss booklist from reviewer Alan Cheuse.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: I wish instead of just recommending these books, I could set them down at your doorstep. "The Collected Stories of John Updike," the second volume of T.C. Boyle's collected stories, and Stanley Crouch's book about the rise and times of our genius saxophone player, Charlie Parker.

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Book Reviews
6:03 am
Wed November 27, 2013

A Travel Writer, Lost In An Undiscovered Country In 'Land Across'

iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 7:55 am

Imaginary countries, from Swift's Laputa to the far lands in the works of Borges and Ursula K. Le Guin, countries we'd do better to just enjoy than try to find on a map — these strike us as mostly places it's better to visit than to live in.

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Book Reviews
3:32 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

'Long Day In November' Back Again After Long Time Gone

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 5:05 pm

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We have a review now of an old book reissued. It's by the great Southern writer Ernest J. Gaines who's best known for the novel "A Lesson Before Dying." More than four decades ago, he wrote a book for young readers called "A Long Day in November." It's being re-released with the story's original illustrations and Alan Cheuse has our review.

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NPR Story
3:45 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

'Nasty Piece Of Work' Makes Spy-Turned-PI Work Well

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 5:54 pm

Alan Cheuse reviews Robert Littell's newest novel of a CIA agent turned private investigator, A Nasty Piece of Work.

Book Reviews
4:13 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

'Red Sky In Morning' Mixes Forceful Language And Powerful Story

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 6:42 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

A propulsive new thriller set in 19th century Ireland hits the shelves this week. It's called "Red Sky in Morning," and it's the first novel from Paul Lynch, who is best known in his native Ireland as a film critic. But our books critic, Alan Cheuse, says this one doesn't read like a debut.

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