Alexander Wells

Featured Work

Review of Durs Grünbein’s Porcelain, in the LA Review of Books

For Grünbein, active engagement means remaining articulate. Understanding the Dresden bombing in context does not just mean insisting on the greater weight of Nazi crimes, or on Germany’s broader historical path to fascism. It means reintroducing the atrocity to language — particularly the German language, where its memory lives on, unaddressed.

Essay on Australia’s (literary) fascination for Berlin, in Kill Your Darlings

In its most enchanting moments, inner Berlin feels symbolic and surreal. You experience the past at such a vast, inhuman scale – so Wolf Lepenies – that you eventually just “remember a void.” Does Berlin’s well-packaged totalitarian backdrop really bring us face to face with the past? Or does it let us feel the nightmare then wake up, returning to our precious non-German innocence?

All Work


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

“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” for Meanjin

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

“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 Fernanda Melchor on superstition, machismo and 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 The Baffler, LARB, History Today, and Meanjin among others, including the Harvard Advocate (where he was President); they have been nominated for the 2021 Pushcart Prize and cited as “notable” in Best American Essays 2021. He has also researched and curated a number of local history projects on such topics as urban ecology, multiculturalism, and post-/industrial space. He is currently Books Editor of the print-plus-online monthly Exberliner.


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Twitter & Instagram: @ajbwells

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