Alexander Chee's Top 5 Longreads of 2011: #Fiction and #Nonfiction

Alexander Chee is the author of the novels Edinburgh and the forthcoming The Queen of the Night. (See more on his Longreads page.)

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My Top Fiction Longreads for 2011:

 Mary Gaitskill’s “The Other Place”, The New Yorker, Feb. 11, 2011: Beautiful, seemingly casual, smart and terrifying, it is the story of a man worried his child will grow up to be a killer. Gaitskill at her best.

• Justin Torres, “Reverting to a Wild State”, The New Yorker, August 1, 2011: What better could you hope for than a story that begins with a beautiful man in a diaper? And for money? 

• Lauren Groff’s “Above and Below”, The New Yorker (subscription required), June 13, 2011: A young woman who slides right out of the educated class into homelessness. 

• Deborah Eisenberg’s “Recalculating”, July 14, 2011, The New York Review of Books: If you hear people tell you about short stories that do what novels do, and you don’t believe it, read Eisenberg. This is one of those stories.

• Yang Sok-Il’s “In Shinjuku” at Granta Online, April 14, 2011: A rare glimpse of the life of a Japanese Korean from a writer who is largely unknown to us in the West for being under-translated.

My Top Nonfiction Longreads for 2011

• Porochista Khakpour’s “Camel Ride” at Guernica, Feb. 15, 2011: “I learned English through watching the Twilight Zone.” Porochista is a friend and also a favorite writer, and this, I think, is one of her best of the memoirs she is publishing.

• John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Mr. Lytle” at the Paris Review is the record of an extraordinary apprenticeship. 

• Paul Ford’s “Facebook and the Epiphinator” at New York Magazine was a revelatory essay on Facebook’s impact on our lives but also our narratives. A lot of people try to write about “what Facebook means” but Paul really did it.

• Eileen Myles’ “Being Female”, at The Awl: ”When I think about being female I think about being loved.” Amazing. The sentences just blow everything up.

• Nell Boeschenstein’s “Now That Books Mean Nothing”, at The Morning NewsShe is a new favorite of mine, and this is a powerful essay about the author’s discovery that books have lost their ability to console her in difficult times.

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