Alan Cheuse was a fixture of the Washington, D.C. literary scene for more than 30 years. Born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, in 1940, Alan finished his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in 1961. After traveling the world, Alan returned to Rutgers to pursue his PhD in Comparative Literature, which he completed in 1974. His dissertation was about the great Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, and he never lost his passion and respect for international writers and their writing.
Alan published his first short story in The New Yorker in 1979 and went on to author 16 books of his own and edit six more, including The Bohemians, The Tennessee Waltz and Other Stories, and Prayers for the Living. In 1981, he started as book critic and cultural commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered, and his voice was heard all over America’s airwaves for more than 30 years.
Perhaps Alan’s greatest legacy was his impact on his students and his unflagging support of writers. Alan taught at Bennington College, Sewanee: The University of the South, The University of Virginia, and The University of Michigan before joining George Mason University in 1987, where he taught fiction in the university’s MFA program for almost 30 years. For over 25 years he also taught during his summers at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, where he served on the Board of Directors.
His untimely death in 2015 was a great loss in the world of American and international letters.