Prior to his passing on July 31, 2015, Alan Cheuse had been reviewing books on NPR’s All Things Considered since the 1980s. His challenge was 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, he was the author of five novels, half a dozen 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 appeared 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 taught writing at George Mason University in Washington, DC, and spent his summers teaching writing at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers in Santa Cruz, CA. He earned his PhD in comparative literature with a focus on Latin American literature from Rutgers University.