We’re excited to announce that Anelise Chen’s debut novel, So Many Olympic Exertions, will be released on August 22, 2017.
Blending elements of self-help, memoir, and sports writing, So Many Olympic Exertions is an experimental novel that perhaps most resembles what the ancient Greeks called hyponemeta, or “notes to the self” in the form of observations, reminders, and self-exhortations. Taken together, these notes constitute a personal handbook on “how to live” or perhaps more urgently “why to live,” a question the narrator, graduate student Athena Chen, desperately needs answered.
When Chen hears news that her brilliant friend from college has committed suicide, she is thrown into a fugue of fear and doubt. Through a fascinating collection of anecdotes and close readings of moments in the sometimes harrowing (i.e. bloody) world of sports, the novel questions the validity and usefulness of our current narratives of success by focusing attention on seemingly mundane, unexpected, or “failed” moments.
A deep examination of life’s epic and daily moments, So Many Olympic Exertions puts a spin on the auto-fiction trend in the vein of Sheila Heti and Ben Lerner to examine what counts as meaningful in the field of our lives. Is it “winning” goals, dominating others, acting upon unbridled ambition, or the relentless stockpiling of fame and validation? Or can meaning be generated in other ways, through moments of mutuality and shared practice? Anelise Chen brings you a completely original take on the sports narrative in her debut novel.
A graduate of the MFA in fiction at NYU, Anelise’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Gawker, The Morning News, The Rumpus, VICE, and BOMB Magazine.
Anelise is currently a fiction editor at The Margins, a publication of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and recently debuted a Daily column in The Paris Review in which she explores the scientific phylum Mollusca. Born in Taipei and raised in Los Angeles, she lives in Manhattan’s Chinatown and teaches at Columbia University.
Anelise has an upcoming appearance at Mid-sentence: Writers in Conversation along with novelist Eugene Lim at the Mid-Manhattan Library on Friday, June 23 from 6pm to 8pm. The event is free and open to the public. Click here for more information.