Macaulay Author Series with Alexander Chee: A Recap

Early February kicked off Macaulay’s Author Series, with a discussion between The Queen of the Night author Alexander Chee and New York Magazine‘s Boris Kachka.

Chee’s novel, a work of historical fiction set in nineteenth-century France, tells the tale of an opera singer with a mysterious past. The novel had been receiving rave reviews in advance of its February 2 publish date. After Chee gave a brief reading from his nearly 600-page book to start the night off, all in attendance realized just why that was.

Alexander Chee and Boris Kachka in conversation.

The discussion following the reading addressed a question many readers had been asking, and touched one of the many reasons why Chee’s new novel was much talked about and anticipated: it was his second novel, but his first book publication in over a decade. His first novel, the acclaimed and award-winning Edinburgh, was published fourteen years ago. Interestingly enough, though the books couldn’t be further in part in terms of subject matter, he explained that he actually had the idea for The Queen of the Night before Edinburgh was published.

Chee also explained that the gap between publish dates was not necessarily a vacation for him. He spent time teaching and writing essays. He even famously kickstarted Amtrak’s Writer Residency program after mentioning in an interview how much he enjoyed writing on trains. His research and rewrites for his new novel were lengthy, however, it even entailed him physically travelling to experience Paris firsthand. During his reading, one of the most striking parts of his prose was his lush creation of an upper class, extravagant, Parisian world of entertainment. Evidently, his research paid off. The author series closed off with a round of Q & A, and Alexander Chee proceeded to sign books for eager readers out in the reading room.

The next @Macaulay Author Series will be Thursday, March 10 at 7pm, featuring Katie Roiphe and her new non-fiction book The Violet Hour: Great Writers At The End.

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