By Alexander Chee,

Book cover of Edinburgh

Book description

A poignant work of mature, haunting artistry, Edinburgh heralds the arrival of a remarkable young writer. Fee, a Korean-American child growing up in Maine, is gifted with a beautiful soprano voice and sings in a professional boys' choir. When the choir director acts out his paedophilic urges on the boys…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Edinburgh as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Chee’s debut novel is quite simply a masterpiece. His language and imagery are lush and lyrical and arresting.

The beauty of the prose stands in stark contrast to the subject matter of child sexual abuse and the long-lasting trauma of that, pulling you into the primary narrator’s story. Once you finish it, you will want to begin reading all over again.

I’m a huge fan of Alexander Chee’s writing across the board, and it was a toss-up between this and his revelatory book of essays, How To Write An Autobiographical Novel. But Edinburgh is the first novel of his I’d ever read. The craft of it is impeccable. The sentences are sharply honed, beautifully built. Under that craft is a chasm of loneliness, the story of someone seeking to find their footing in a world destabilized by past trauma and current shame, and the ways in which intimacy can rescue us from ourselves – briefly – while never quite transforming…

This coming-of-age novel was groundbreaking, as it concerns a shy Korean American boy who grows up in Maine, singing in a boys’ choir, who has to figure out how to navigate the aftermath of sexual molestation. But then the book takes a startling, provocative turn, with the narrator becoming a young man and teaching at a private school, where he discovers one of his students is his molester’s son. Edinburgh is achingly beautiful.

A year before I embarked upon my MFA, I found Alex’s book. Edinburgh is one of those rare novels you feel more than you read, if that makes sense. Probably doesn’t, which is why I urge you to pick this up. I don’t know if you are familiar with the phrase “exquisite corpse” – it’s a method where you collaborate on a story with others by only seeing the last sentence and then writing your own – but I actually want you to take those two words at face value. This book is an exquisite corpse – it is both…

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