Alec Nevala-Lee thrills readers with conspiracy and intrigue from the art world in his debut novel

July 16, 2012

Vikram Murthi

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Marcel Duchamp and the New York Russian mafia may not seem connected to most people, but novelist Alec Nevala-Lee brilliantly ties them together in his debut novel The Icon Thief. At the center of this thriller is Etant Donnes, Marcel Duchamp’s enigmatic final installation. Composed in secret, Duchamp worked on the piece for over two decades and wasn’t revealed to the public until after Duchamp’s death in 1968. In his novel, Nevala-Lee sheds quite a bit of light on Duchamp’s Etant Donnes while also telling a story about organized crime, international conspiracy, and art trafficking. The Icon Thief has been described as “cerebral” and “exciting” by Publishers Weekly.

After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in classics, Alec Nevala-Lee spent several years as an associate at a New York investment firm before pursuing a career as a novelist. He is also prolific essayist and nonfiction writer, and his work has been featured in Salon and The Los Angeles Times.

Alec Nevala-Lee joins Afternoon Shift host Steve Edwards for a chat about his new book, his career and Marcel Duchamp.