Alexander Chee is the author of the national bestseller, The Queen of the Night, published in February of 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. His acclaimed debut novel, Edinburgh, was first published in 2001. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic, an editor at large at VQR and The Lit Hub, and a critic at large for The Los Angeles Times. His essays and stories have appeared in Best American Essays 2016, The New York Times Book Review, Tin House, Slate, Guernica, NPR and Out, among others. He is winner of the Whiting Award, and fellowships from the NEA and the MCCA, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the VCCA, Civitella Ranieri and Amtrak. He has taught writing at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Columbia University, the University of Texas – Austin and Princeton University. He lives in New York City.


  1. Hey. I just discovered you and your beautiful writing while feverishly running searches for dodgy, half-formed questions like “MFA regret?” I had jumped down this rabbit hole many times but had never found anything as compelling as your essay “My Parade.” As a struggling writer (well, struggling personal trainer to support my writing habit) just getting by in San Francisco, I have been agonizing over whether now is finally the time to again pursue an MFA in fiction. Your piece hit me where I needed to be hit. It wasn’t that I so much made a decision about what to do with my life but more that your words made me feel excited about what we can get out of life when we grab it by the balls. I have performed abysmally in the ball-grabbing field for much of my adult life, but your piece made me want to make the most of my path. Wherever that leads.

    My favorite part of the essay was where you talked about your first workshop with Deborah Eisenberg, when she drew pencil lines to separate what you had invented from what you hadn’t. This line got me: “That what we borrow from life tends to be the most problematic, and that the problem stems from the way we’ve already invented so much of what we think we know about ourselves, without admitting it.” Reading that, I felt both gently chastised and like you’d given me something I felt guilty taking for free but would keep forever, those rare finds that make reading feel like an endless treasure hunt.

    Thank you. Please keep writing forever.

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