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 Reviews
3:09 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Book Review: 'A Replacement Life'

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 6:40 pm

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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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
3:13 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Book Review: 'Shooting Star'

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 5:13 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A 30-year-old novel has just been translated to English but keeps its Spanish name, "Muerte En Una Estrella." The author is Sergio Elizondo, and the translators are Rosaura Sanchez and Beatrice Pita. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse says it crackles.

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Book Reviews
3:17 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Book Review: 'The Expedition To The Boabab Tree'

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 6:01 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The journey of a girl sold into slavery is the topic of a compelling piece of fiction out of South Africa. It's called "The Expedition To The Boabab Tree." The author is poet Wilma Stockenstrom. She originally published it back in 1981, and now it has been translated from the Africaans by Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee and published in the United States. Allen Cheuse has our review.

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Book Reviews
3:07 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 3:26 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
3:15 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Book Review: 'No Country'

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 6:14 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. Kalyan Ray has been busy. The Bangladesh-born writer is also a translator and actor. That may be why 10 years have passed since his first novel was released. And reviewer Alan Cheuse is happy his second is now out.

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Book Reviews
3:00 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Summer Reading: Three Books To Take You To New Frontiers

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 5:24 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. You don't need a ticket to travel this summer. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, has packed a small bag of books that he says will send you to Alaska, Siberia and Tasmania. Here's Alan on three debut works.

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Book Reviews
6:21 am
Wed June 4, 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
3:08 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Book Review: 'The Director' and 'Night Heron'

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 7:03 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. Now, two new spy novels, both written by journalists - one by an old hand of the genre, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius - the other by a first-time novelist, Adam Brookes at the BBC. Alan Cheuse has our reviews.

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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
3:00 pm
Wed May 14, 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
6:03 am
Sat May 10, 2014

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

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
3:16 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Book Review: 'In Praise Of Hatred'

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 5:38 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In Syria, the 1980s were marked by a bloody civil war between the Sunni majority and the minority Alawite Muslim government. That's now the setting for a novel titled "In Praise of Hatred." It's by Syrian writer Khaled Khalifa. It's now available in the United States and a translation by Larry Price. And Alan Cheuse has our review.

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Book Reviews
6:03 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
6:03 am
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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