• How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

  • Essays
  • By: Alexander Chee
  • Narrated by: Daniel K. Isaac
  • Length: 8 hrs and 28 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (272 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An essay collection exploring his education as a man, writer, and activist - and how we form our identities in life and in art.

As a novelist, Alexander Chee has been described as "masterful" by Roxane Gay, "incendiary" by the New York Times, and "brilliant" by the Washington Post. With How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, his first collection of nonfiction, he is sure to secure his place as one of the finest essayists of his generation as well.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author's manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation's history, including his father's death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing - Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley - the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump.

By turns commanding, heartbreaking, and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.

A BookRiot Pick of Books to Read If You Love "Pose". 

An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Year (So Far). 

A Chicago Review of Books Pick of Best of the Year (So Far). 

A Buzzfeed Best Books of the Year (So Far). 

A Wired Magazine Pick of Must-Read Summer Titles. 

An Esquire Magazine Pick of Best Books of 2018 (So Far). 

A Christian Science Monitor selection of 2018's Most Anticipated Books. 

A Bustle Pick of Most Anticipated Books of 2018. 

A Bitch magazine pick of Most Anticipated Nonfiction for 2018. 

A Pop Sugar Pick of Most Anticipated Upcoming Books. 

A Paste Magazine Pick of Most Anticipated Books of 2018. 

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018.

©2018 Alexander Chee (P)2018 Blackstone Publishing

Featured Article: The Best LGBTQIA+ Listens by Queer Authors


We scoured the LGBTQIA+ canon to present some of our favorite queer-focused listens of all time. Inclusivity and representation are among the most powerful and positive aspects of literature. Here are some of the best LGBTQIA+ listens available, from lesbian literature to bisexual and trans stories. And because we know that authenticity is important, our selections are all stories focused on gay characters, written by gay authors.

What listeners say about How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

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The unexpected how-to

I loved this book despite it not being what I expected and instead being what I needed. I enjoyed the essays weaving me through his life and his relationship with writing. As he told his story, I was dropped into my own historical moments reliving the good and the bad.

6 people found this helpful

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Even a collection of essays has to hook the reader

First, I thought this book was about "how to write an autobiographical book". So that was a disappointment. The chapters were slow, as far as moving the story forward. If you're writing your own story, even using. collection of essays, it has to move towards something.
I don't have any issue reading stories (fiction or nonfiction) with people of different races, sexualities, genders, backgrounds, religions/spirituality, politics, or experiences. I do take issue with any story where the movement/drama/pacing is lacking.
Better autobiographical books for me were: michael caine "blowing the bloody doors off" and busy Phillips "this will only hurt a little".

6 people found this helpful

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Do NOT waste your money or time

Boring. One Star for writing a book. BT But how it got published ???? I would have time investigate and it is not worth

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Absolutely stunning

A fellow writer recommended I read/listen to this book, and I am so glad I did. I could almost not believe Chee was not narrating because the narrator was so natural and so well paced. I was engaged the entire time. While I walked in expected everything to be centered around writing, and much of it was, I walk away feeling inspired and full of imagery from his life. There were so many specific moments he describes so truthfully, I felt like his was in my head/memories. Very beautiful collection of essays.

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Craft Writing with Chiseled Narration

I’ll be listening to this book again. The anecdotes and writing notes were made vibrant when coupled with a convincing and pleasant voice.

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Autobiography

Wry well written and performed. I lived my own biography while listening. It was a powerful experience.

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Stunning and beautiful

I don’t usually like super gay books, but Audible recommended this one and it was incredible. Also the guy who reads it sounds like the bad guy in the movie There Will Be Blood and I LOVED that. Made it feel juicy and taboo. Really gave me a new appreciation for gay men. Fantastic writer.

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Very interesting!

Had my attention from start to finish. I wanted to read something different. I’m glad I picked this book for my thought provoking genre.

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Fine collection of essays

I went into this not knowing what to expect and am in a spell from this fine collection of essays. Well done, Chee.

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Autobiographical and poetic

I'll admit I didn't listen to every word of the audible version of this book. had I had the hard copy I would have seen that this book is less an advice on writing book and more a biography of the author and their prose in simile and metaphor. the author does a nice job storytelling and the narrator does a nice job reading. Just not my preference in writing style and didn't keep my attention.