Preview: Alexander Chee in the Kelly Writers Series


The Kelly Writers Series will continue Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Peeler Auditorium. This next installment of the year-long lecture series features Alexander Chee, author of award-winning novels “The Queen of the Night and Edinburgh.” Chee’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Slate, Guernica, and Tin House, and his essay “Girl” appeared in the Best American Essays of 2016. His literary criticisms are also frequently published in The New York Times Book Review and The Los Angeles Times.  

During his upcoming engagement at DePauw, Chee is expected to read from his newest work, a collection of essays called “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel.” Among other things, the essays included in this piece focus on Chee’s own life and career as a non-white, homosexual American and the related obstacles to success he’s had to overcome. Chee wrote of his involvement with the Iowa Writers Workshop and of the work he shared there, “I am taking this parade down the middle of the road. A parade is a test of a community…I’d been accepted to Iowa, but I still didn’t know if Iowa was going to accept me, a gay Korean American writer.”

Kelly Writers Series Director, Eugene Gloria, said of “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel,” “They’re all stories about himself, and his life experiences, but they’re all a little different.  They’re about him being a tarot reader, being an activist in San Francisco, and working to fight AIDS, and one when he was working as a caterer; all just interesting life stories. The narratives get into politics, and get personal, of course, but it’s largely about literature, from a person who writes, but also one who loves to read.”

This event, which Gloria describes as an old-school bookstore meet-and-greet, “but put that in a much larger venue,” is free and open to the public. It will feature a reading by Chee, followed by a Q&A session, and an opportunity to meet Chee and have him sign “How to Write an Autobiographical Novel,” which will be available for purchase.