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 News & Features
3:44 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

'Lila' Sets The Stage For Marilynn Robinson's Earlier Works

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 5:03 pm

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Book Reviews
5:03 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Martin Amis' 'Zone Of Interest' Is An Electrically Powerful Holocaust Novel

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 5:48 pm

When I picked up Martin Amis' new novel, The Zone of Interest, it felt as though I had touched a third rail, so powerful and electric is the experience of reading it. After years of playing the snide card and giving his great store of talents to the business of giving other people the business, Amis has turned again to the matter of Nazi horrors (he tried to deal with it in a gimmicky way in his 1991 novel Time's Arrow), and the result is a book that may stand for years as the triumph of his career.

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Book Reviews
4:47 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Book Review: 'Angels Make Their Hope Here'

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 7:17 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDRED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Now to 19th-century New Jersey and a new novel. It set among unusually tolerant people. A racially mixed community that offers refuge to independent souls. Alan Cheuse has this review of the novel "Angels Make Their Hope Here" by Breena Clarke.

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Book Reviews
12:34 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

'Night Heron' And 'The Director' Provide A Double Shot Of Intrigue

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 9:39 am

I suppose it's preaching to the converted to announce that David Ignatius has done it again. But here he is, having written yet another deeply engaging spy thriller, rooted at that point where the intricacies of the intelligence community and the everyday world of civilians converge. However, it's a reviewer's duty to point out some fascinating new turns in the man's work — in particular, the highlighting of Internet communications as a source of secret information over the conventional collection of data in the field, and the actual manipulation of events by means of writing code.

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Book Reviews
4:05 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

McMurtry Takes Aim At A Legend In 'Last Kind Words Saloon'

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 8:53 am

In a prefatory note to The Last Kind Words Saloon, his first novel in five years, Western writer supreme Larry McMurtry states that he wants to create a "ballad in prose." And he borrows a line from great moviemaker John Ford: "When legend becomes fact, print the legend."

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Book Reviews
1:48 pm
Sun May 25, 2014

Everyday Life Is a Rich Mine Of Absurdity In 'American Innovations'

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 6:59 pm

Richard Ford talks about understanding voice in fiction as "the music of the story's intelligence." It's been a long while since I've read short fiction by a new writer who makes that idea seem so definitive. But here is American Innovations, the first collection by Rivka Galchen. She lives in New York City, attended medical school, writes for the New Yorker, and has already published one novel. And now, she's brought out these stories that seem like the smartest around.

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Book Reviews
6:08 pm
Sat May 17, 2014

A Fractured Tale Of Time, War And A Really Big Diamond

Originally published on Sat May 10, 2014 6:03 am

No book I've read all year underscores the distinctions between the long form and the short story more than the award-winning story writer Anthony Doerr's new novel All the Light We Cannot See.

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Book Reviews
10:54 am
Tue April 8, 2014

In 'Paradise,' Finding Understanding In The Ruins Of Horror

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 8:58 am

Over the course of his long and distinguished writing career, Peter Matthiessen — who died this past weekend at the age of 86 — chased numerous demons, from Florida outlaws to missionaries and mercenaries in South America. In his latest novel, which the ailing writer suggested would be his last, takes us back to a week-long conference held at Auschwitz in 1996. Here, as autumn shifts toward winter, Jews and Germans, Poles and Americans, rabbis, Buddhists, European nuns and slightly crazed survivors of Nazi genocide stand witness to the atrocities of some of the greatest demons of history.

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Book Reviews
4:43 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

'Frog Music' Sounds A Barbaric (But Invigorating) Yawp

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 5:42 pm

San Francisco in the summer of the 1876, between the Gold Rush and the smallpox epidemic, is the setting for Emma Donoghue's boisterous new novel, Frog Music.

There's real frog music in these pages, the riveting cries of the creatures hunted by Jenny Bonnet, one of the two main characters. She's a pistol-packing, pants-wearing gal in a town where pants on women are one of the few cardinal sins, and she scratches out a living catching frogs and selling them to local restaurants.

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Book Reviews
2:03 am
Wed March 26, 2014

A Lyrical Meditation On Grief In 'Falling Out Of Time'

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 9:44 am

I am a mortal reader; I have my flaws. I don't usually enjoy prose poems or novels written in lines of poetry, and when I see character types with names in capital letters like the ones that appear in Israeli writer David Grossman's new Falling Out of Time — The Walking Man, the Net Mender, the Midwife, the Town Chronicler — I tend to prepare to pack up, close the book, and turn to something less allegorical.

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