K Chess

K Chess is the author of short stories honored by the Nelson Algren Literary Award and the Pushcart Prize. She was a W. K. Rose Fellow, earned an MFA from Southern Illinois University, and currently teaches at GrubStreet. She lives with her wife in Providence, Rhode Island.


  • “A beautifully written and conceived novel, and one whose message of empathy across lines of difference is much needed.”


  • “Eerie and ingenious. . . . Describes an impossible world in order to more clearly show us our own.”

    —Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Dreamers

  • “Incredibly intriguing.”

    The Washington Post, Best SF/F Books of the Year

  • “Powerfully written.”

    —Jo Walton, Tor.com

  • Spectacular.”

    —Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others

  • “A beautiful labyrinth of a novel—electric, formidable, and wildly moving.”

    —Laura van den Berg, author of I Hold a Wolf by the Ears

  • “Remarkable.”

    —A.V. Club, Best Books of the Year

  • “Impossible to forget.”

    —Book Riot

  • “As timely and powerfully written as it is jaw-droppingly imaginative.”


  • “A story about immigration wrapped inside a post-apocalyptic fable with multiple universes that also manages to be a meditation on art, fate, trauma, and loss.”

    —The Millions

  • “Intriguing and fresh . . . a promising new voice in speculative fiction.”


  • “Magnificent. . . . An awesome and humbling literary achievement.”

    Foreword Reviews, Starred Review

  • “Impressive.”

    —Vol. 1 Brooklyn

  • “A gripping and thought-provoking read.”

    Popular Science

  • “Powerful.”

    —The Verge

  • “Stands among the best works of hybrid SF.”

    —New York Journal of Books

  • “The novel jumps off from a fascinating premise into strange and fertile territory. K Chess constructs not just one universe, but two, and delicately entangles them to create a rich, engrossing exploration of displacement, history, memory, of the past and the present. Conceptually adventurous yet full of feeling, Famous Men Who Never Lived is a smart, thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable debut.”

    —Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown