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
4:44 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

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

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 6:03 pm

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Book Reviews
6:03 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

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

Originally published on Wed September 17, 2014 6:48 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
5:47 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Book Review: 'Angels Make Their Hope Here'

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 8:17 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
4:07 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

'Warburg' Struggles For Love And Justice In Wartime Rome

St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
AP

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 4:26 pm

James Carroll, who served as a Catholic priest before his literary ambitions led him to go secular, has gathered together his knowledge of church history and his mature powers as a novelist to create Warburg in Rome, his most splendid work of fiction to date.

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Book Reviews
5:05 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

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

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 9:53 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
5:27 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Written In Secret Behind The Iron Curtain, 'Corpse' Is Revived

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 8:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The fiction work of Soviet era writer Zigizmund Krzhizhanovsky never saw the light of day in his own time. He was known mostly as a theater, music and literally critic, but he also wrote fables and fiction for more than 20 years, none of which appeared in print until 1989. Well, a new volume of that work called "Autobiography of a Corpse" has just come out here in the U.S. It's translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull, and Alan Cheuse has our review.

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Book Reviews
5:37 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

A Coming Of Age Story For The (Ice) Ages

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. A new novel explores life on Earth tens of thousands of years ago. It's called "Shaman" by science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, says it's worthy of a spot on the bookshelf between "The Inheritors" and "The Clan Of The Cave Bear."

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Book Reviews
8:00 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Book Review: 'Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish'

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The writer and humorist David Rakoff died last year at the age of 47 of cancer. He left behind his final work: a brief novel in verse with the long title "Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish." It was published today, and Alan Cheuse has this review.

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NPR Story
4:15 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Book Review: 'Skinner'

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 12:36 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Charlie Huston is a Los Angeles-based writer known for his superhero comic books and crime novels. Alan Cheuse couldn't wait to get his hands on Huston's latest thriller called "Skinner." Here's his review.

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NPR Story
4:44 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Book Review: 'The Mehlis Report'

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 6:15 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Our book reviewer Alan Cheuse is excited to introduce the work of Rabee Jaber. He lives in Lebanon, and his novel "The Mehlis Report" takes place there. In Beirut, the characters await the real Mehlis report, which analyzed the watershed moment in Lebanon, the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

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Book Reviews
5:45 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Book Review: 'A Nearly Perfect Copy'

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 7:23 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Allison Amend is out with her third book. It's a novel called "A Nearly Perfect Copy." It features richly detailed characters, including an art dealer gone bad, and it's set in both Paris and New York. Our review Alan Cheuse found it all quite delectable.

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Book Reviews
4:38 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

Book Review: 'Submergence'

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 6:04 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The writer J.M. Ledgard leads multiple lives. He's a journalist and covers East Africa for the Economist, but Ledgard is also a novelist. Here's Alan Cheuse with a review of his latest book, "Submergence."

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: James More, a British secret agent, has been captured by a Somalian affiliate of al-Qaeda, a peripatetic fringe group that keeps moving him back and forth across the mostly barren terrain of northeastern Africa, trying to hide from drone attacks and make jihad at the same time.

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Book Reviews
5:26 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Book Review: 'Where Tigers Are At Home'

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 1:05 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Our book reviewer, Alan Cheuse, has just traveled to Brazil and back in an 800-page novel. The book is called "Where Tigers Are At Home." It's by a French novelist named Jean-Marie Blas de Robles and it's just out in English. Here's Alan's review.

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Book Reviews
1:20 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Under Ogawa's Macabre, Metafictional Spell

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:23 pm

It used to be a truism among critics of British poetry that Keats and most of his fellow Romantic poets worked in the shadow of John Milton. I'm not making a perfect analogy when I suggest that most contemporary Japanese writers seem to be working under the shadow of Haruki Murakami, but I hope it highlights the spirit of the situation.

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Best Books Of 2012
2:48 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

A Wintry Mix: Alan Cheuse Selects The Season's Best

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 11:50 pm

It's that time of year again — the leaves have fallen, the dark comes early, the air brings with it a certain chill — and I've been piling up books on my reading table, books I've culled from the offerings of the past few months, which because of their essential lyric beauty and power stand as special gifts for you and yours.

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Book Reviews
4:40 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Book Review: 'Dear Life'

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 5:52 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel with good news for short story fans.

Canadian writer and master of the short story Alice Munro has published a new collection. It's called "Dear Life." And our reviewer Alan Cheuse says it's a must read.

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Books
7:03 am
Tue October 16, 2012

'Round House' Is One Of Erdrich's Best

Louise Erdrich's debut novel, Love Medicine, won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984. Her other books include The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse and The Plague of Doves.
Paul Emmel Harper

I've devoted many hours in my life to reading, and among these hours many of them belong to the creations of novelist Louise Erdrich. In more than a dozen books of fiction — mostly novel length — that make up a large part of her already large body of work, Erdrich has given us a multitude of narrative voices and stories. Never before has she given us a novel with a single narrative voice so smart, rich and full of surprises as she has in The Round House. It's her latest novel, and, I would argue, her best so far.

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Book Reviews
5:04 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Book Review: 'Finding Casey'

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 6:46 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We have a review now of a new novel set in the American Southwest. It's called "Finding Casey" by Jo-Ann Mapson. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse says it's a messy, sprawling ensemble story and well worth the read.

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Book Reviews
4:46 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

Book Review: 'With Blood In Their Eyes'

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 11:07 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Writer Thomas Cobb may be best known for his novel "Crazy Heart," it went on to become an acclaimed movie starring Jeff Bridges as a country music singer who's seen far better days. Now Cobb is out with a new novel called "With Blood in Their Eyes." Our reviewer Alan Cheuse says it's a Western worth reading.

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Book Reviews
5:00 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Book Review: 'The Round House'

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 5:12 pm

Alan Cheuse reviews Louise Erdrich's latest novel The Round House. Cheuse teaches creative writing at George Mason University.

Book Reviews
4:32 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

A Midcentury Romance, With 'Sunlight' And 'Shadow'

John Craven Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 5:54 pm

New York, New York, it's a wonderful town! And Mark Helprin's new near-epic novel makes it all the more marvelous. It's got great polarized motifs — war and peace, heroism and cowardice, crime and civility, pleasure and business, love and hate, bias and acceptance — which the gifted novelist weaves into a grand, old-fashioned romance, a New York love story that begins with a Hollywoodish meet-cute on the Staten Island Ferry.

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Book Reviews
4:56 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Book Review: 'The People Of Forever Are Not Afraid'

Originally published on Wed October 3, 2012 10:36 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now, an insider's view of the Israeli Defense Force. In the new novel, "The People Of Forever Are Not Afraid," author and veteran Shani Boianjiu tells the story of three young women serving in the IDF. Alan Cheuse has our review.

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Book Reviews
7:03 am
Thu September 20, 2012

A Leap Of The Imagination Across The 'River Of Bees'

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 11:09 am

Ursula Le Guin comes immediately to mind when you turn the pages of Kij Johnson's first book of short stories, her debut collection is that impressive. The title piece has that wonderful power we hope for in all fiction we read, the surprising imaginative leap that takes us to recognize the marvelous in the everyday.

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Book Reviews
4:59 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Book Review: 'Black Dahlia and White Rose'

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 7:09 pm

Alan Cheuse reviews Joyce Carol Oates most recent story collection, Black Dahlia and White Rose. Cheuse teaches creative writing at George Mason University.

Book Reviews
7:03 am
Tue September 18, 2012

'The People Of Forever' Are Frank But Flawed

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 11:33 am

Nothing like a novel by a young recruit to tell you the truths about an army, as in, say, From Here to Eternity and The Naked and the Dead. In this case it's a book called The People of Forever Are Not Afraid, by Shani Boianjiu, a young female veteran of the Israel Defense Forces. And though it may not be the first of its kind — Moshe Dayan's daughter Yael published some fiction about the Israeli army decades ago — Boianjiu's debut novel has some virtues all its own, and some flaws.

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Book Reviews
4:58 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Book Review: 'God Carlos'

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 9:57 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Now to the 16th Century and the Spanish port of Cadiz. It's the setting for "God Carlos," a new novel by Jamaican-born writer Anthony Winkler, who takes us on a voyage to the New World. Alan Cheuse has this review.

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Book Reviews
4:42 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Review: 'The Yellow Birds'

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 7:50 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Writer Kevin Powers enlisted in the army at age 17 and served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. He now lives in Austin, Texas, where he's been studying poetry at the University of Texas. And he's just published his first book, a novel called "The Yellow Birds." Alan Cheuse has our review.

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Book Reviews
5:00 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Book Review: 'The Renegades'

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 6:23 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

A woman plays the hero in a new military thriller set in Afghanistan. Author Tom Young served there and in Iraq as a flight engineer for the Air National Guard. His novel, "The Renegades," is set in a war-torn Afghan province and the air space above it.

Alan Cheuse has this review.

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Book Reviews
4:24 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

'A Hundred Flowers' Looks At China's Revolution

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 6:02 pm

NPR's Alan Cheuse reviews the new novel A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama that takes place in China during 1950s and '60s.

Book Reviews
4:35 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Review: 'At The Mouth Of The River Of Bees'

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 6:00 pm

Alan Cheuse reviews a collection of science fiction short stories by Kij Johnson, "At the Mouth of the River of Bees."

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