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Alexander Wells

Review of László Krasznahorkai’s Chasing Homer for New Left Review (Sidecar)

The Krasznahorkian narrator is propelled by fear: ‘it is enough’, the narrator of Chasing Homer says, ‘that I’m afraid’. Yet fear, in his world, brings no shame. Of the two archetypal responses to fear, fight and flight, Krasznahorkai champions the latter. Better to be a holy fool than a policeman, a fugitive than a border guard. It might all be futile, but there is something in having tried. A monologue, however strange, implies the hope of someone listening.

Essay on Western narratives about the Stasi in The Baffler

Such is the baffled logic of Western Stasi-lit: Donnersmarck wants to wiretap confession booths; Funder the truth-teller falls for everyone’s bullshit; and Hope, in between railing against European privacy laws, winds up singing a Song of Democracy about some AfD-supporting conspiracy theorists. Our Stasi narratives may reassure us we aren’t as compromised as the past, but when it’s time to face the present, they leave us thoroughly confused.

All Work


“Joseph Roth’s City of Miniatures” on Roth’s Berlin writing & the post-Covid city for Words Without Borders

“To see a city” on Czech author Daniela Hodrová, Prague and the Central European novel for European Review of Books

“Exposure” on chronic illness, masculinity, slowness and football for Meanjin

“The Spies of Others” on the West’s uses and abuses of Stasi narratives for The Baffler

“A history of Berlin in five cafés” on Berlin’s most iconic coffeehouses for Slow Travel Berlin

“Perpetual Motion Machine” on the history of fatigue and dreams of curing it for Hypocrite Reader (listed as “Notable” in Best American Essays 2021)

“What are Young Australians Searching For in Berlin?” for Kill Your Darlings

“An Egalitarian Estate” on radical social housing in Weimar Berlin for Exberliner (available here)

“Sydney’s other housing crisis” on Marrickville bird habitats for Sweaty City (available here)

“Berlin, After the Fall” on the local afterlives of German reunification for Meanjin (online)

“Marrickville’s sweatshops: An historical view” for re/work exhibition at AIRspace Projects (on request)

“Whatever happened to the arts of peace?” for Overland

“Saving history from the Ramsay Centre’s warriors” for Overland

“More than mates: Walt Whitman and the art of friendship” for Homer

“Snarking towards Bethlehem: The Gawker Manifesto That Wasn’t” for The Harvard Advocate

“MADE” for The Harvard Advocate

“The Leaves of Others” for Fifteen Minutes (The Harvard Crimson)

“We All Live Here Together” for Fifteen Minutes (The Harvard Crimson)


With author Helen DeWitt on curiosity, fiction and “the industry” for Exberliner

With author Fernanda Melchor on superstition, machismo and writing multiple perspectives for Exberliner

With historian Samuel Clowes Huneke on the queer history of Cold War Berlin for Exberliner

With author Musa Okwonga on race, writing and love for Exberliner

With historian Brian Ladd on Europe’s city streets for Slow Travel Berlin

With author Bernhard Schlink on victims, villains and German identity for Exberliner

With historian Jürgen Martschukat on fitness culture for Exberliner

With author Roanna Gonsalves on multicultural fiction for Writing New South Wales

With author Andy Muir on Australian beachside noir for Writing New South Wales

With author John Hughes for The Harvard Advocate


Alexander Wells is a writer, editor, and history researcher living in Berlin. His essays have appeared in New Left Review, The Baffler, LARB, History Today, and Meanjin among others, including the Harvard Advocate (where he was President); these have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and cited as “notable” in Best American Essays 2021.

His areas of focus include Central European literature, history & memory (especially in Germany), and chronic illness. He has researched and curated a number of local history projects on topics including urban ecology, multiculturalism, and post-/industrial space. Currently he is Books Editor of the print-plus-online monthly Exberliner and working on a longer project about the literary underground of Communist East Berlin.

He is available for writing commissions, for freelance editing and German-to-English translating work, and as a moderator for literary events.


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Twitter: @ajbwells

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