Alexander Chee

  • Art and Lies

    ALEXANDER CHEE: You have never shied away from writing about the events of the world, but your new novel, A Time Outside This Time (Knopf, $27), takes that on in a different way: a novelist at an artist’s colony considers whether the violence in the world outside the retreat is an interruption or a muse.

    AMITAVA KUMAR: You’re right, I have not shied away from writing about the events facing the world. I wrote a book about terrorism trials called A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb. But that writing did not have reflections on writing, like this one. It didn’t ask the

  • Sex and the Sacristy

    At one point it was my good fortune to spend four summers working in Tuscany, surrounded by its heritage of religious art, and by the last visit, it occurred to me I was in possession of the kind of touristic cultural education I remembered Lucy Honeychurch pursuing in Florence, in E. M. Forster’s novel A Room with a View. Italian religious art plays a role in the plot, especially a scene in which Lucy faints by the Arno, and once I came to recognize the saints’ names and the biblical characters, and the signs that this or that patron had had himself or herself painted as this or that Roman or

  • culture November 03, 2016

    Elena Ferrante, Private Novelist

    Elena Ferrante’s latest book to be published in English, Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey, is also about a woman’s disappearance—her own. In it, Ferrante records her 24-year fight against the manipulation of her authorial identity.

  • The Guys Who Came in from the Cold

    Ethan Mordden’s Buddies, published in 1986 by Stonewall Inn Editions, a historic gay-fiction imprint of St. Martin’s Press, is the second collection of interconnected short stories in Mordden’s five-volume series on gay life in Gotham (later titles include Some Men Are Lookers and How’s Your Romance?). They describe a group of gay-male friends and lovers living in New York City in the ’80s and ’90s, and together capture some of the emotional canyons of that era’s iconic, revolutionary American-gay-male sexual culture, and its eventual devastation by the aids epidemic. The first book, I’ve a