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Photo: M. Sharkey

at Athenaeum Theatre

Alexander Chee: How To Write An Autobiographical Novel

‘Novels are accidents at their start,’ Alexander Chee has written. What causes these productive accidents? Who do they happen to? And what do novels become next?

Chee, the author of two masterful, award-winning novels – and a distinguished teacher, essayist and critic – has given a lot of thought to these questions. His acclaimed, reflexive autobiographical first novel, Edinburgh, was about a Korean-American boy from Maine. His second book, The Queen of the Night, was a radical departure – about a 19th-century opera singer in France.

His third book, How To Write An Autobiographical Novel, is a work of memoir – a collection of engrossing essays about Chee’s own life and about the mysterious alchemy behind full-length works of fiction. These essays describe episodes from the author’s own life, from the traumatic childhood events that fed directly into the writing of Edinburgh, to his AIDS activism in the nineties and his time at Iowa Writers’ Workshop. It’s a profound, enigmatic and charming book; a highly distinctive reflection on memory, identity and creativity.

A revered ‘writer’s writer’, a tireless champion of other authors, and a blazing talent in his own right, Chee will talk writing and life at the Athenaeum Theatre.

Sun Bookshop will be our bookseller for this event.


Portrait of Alexander Chee

Alexander Chee

Alexander Chee is the bestselling author of the novels The Queen of the Night and Edinburgh. He is a contributing editor at the New Republic, an editor at large at Virginia Quarterly Review, and a critic at large at the Los Angeles Times. His work has appeared in The Best American Essays 2016, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Guernica, and Tin House, among others. He is an Associate Professor of English at Dartmouth College. 

Portrait of Leah Jing McIntosh

Leah Jing McIntosh

Leah Jing McIntosh is the founding editor of Liminal. Since 2017, Leah has published art, writing and interviews by and for Asian-Australian artists. She has founded national literary prizes for minoritized writers, and co-edited Collisions (Pantera Press), a collection of fiction by First Nations writers and Writers of Colour.


An alchemy of writers. An explosion of ideas.

Do you like your military history with a side of hip-hop? How about fabulist fiction beside trailblazing journalism? This May, take your brain out for a spin. You’ll meet Pulitzer-winners, YA stars, eminent historians, poets, rappers and some of the world’s best living novelists.

Event partners

Logos of partner organisations: Sydney Writers Festival, Auckland Writers Festival, State Library Victoria, State Library of Queensland, Byron Writers Festival and 3RRR


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