Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Dan Chaon  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Born: 1964 in Sidney, Nebraska

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Chaon graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston.

Biographical and Professional Information

Dan Chaon is the acclaimed author of Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. His fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including ''The Best American Short Stories'', ''Pushcart Prize'', and ''The O. Henry Prize Stories''. A finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, Chaon was also the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A graduate from Northwestern Illinois University, Chaon received his MFA from Syracuse. He currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Fitting Ends and Other Stories
ISBN: 0810150212

Triquarterly. 1995

Dan Chaon's first collection offers thirteen deft stories detailing the panicked angst of the American generation now approaching thirty. His characters are unnerved by the discrepancy between their youthful expectations and adult reality

they long for understanding and acceptance but are thwarted by failed love, family disruptions, dull work, and sexual confusion. His perfect pitch captures voices that still believe in life, but can't quite manage their lives.

Among the Missing (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
ISBN: 0345441613

Ballantine Books. 2002

In this haunting, bracing new collection, Dan Chaon shares stories of men, women, and children who live far outside the American Dream, while wondering which decision, which path, or which accident brought them to this place. Chaon mines the psychological landscape of his characters to dazzling effect. Each story radiates with sharp humor, mystery, wonder, and startling compassion. Among the Missing lingers in the mind through its subtle grace and power of language.

You Remind Me of Me: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
ISBN: 0345441400

Ballantine Books. 2005

With his critically acclaimed Among the Missing and Fitting Ends, award-winning author Dan Chaon proved himself a master of the short story form. He is a writer, observes the Chicago Tribune, who can “convincingly squeeze whole lives into a mere twenty pages or so.” Now Chaon marshals his notable talents in his much-anticipated debut novel.

You Remind Me of Me begins with a series of separate incidents: In 1977, a little boy is savagely attacked by his mother’s pet Doberman

in 1997 another little boy disappears from his grandmother’s backyard on a sunny summer morning

in 1966, a pregnant teenager admits herself to a maternity home, with the intention of giving her child up for adoption

in 1991, a young man drifts toward a career as a drug dealer, even as he hopes for something better. With penetrating insight and a deep devotion to his characters, Dan Chaon explores the secret connections that irrevocably link them. In the process he examines questions of identity, fate, and circumstance: Why do we become the people that we become? How do we end up stuck in lives that we never wanted? And can we change the course of what seems inevitable?

In language that is both unflinching and exquisite, Chaon moves deftly between the past and the present in the small-town prairie Midwest and shows us the extraordinary lives of “ordinary” people.


From the Hardcover edition.

Await Your Reply: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle)
ISBN: 0345476034

Ballantine Books. 2010

The lives of three strangers interconnect in unforeseen ways–and with unexpected consequences–in acclaimed author Dan Chaon’s gripping, brilliantly written new novel.

Longing to get on with his life, Miles Cheshire nevertheless can’t stop searching for his troubled twin brother, Hayden, who has been missing for ten years. Hayden has covered his tracks skillfully, moving stealthily from place to place, managing along the way to hold down various jobs and seem, to the people he meets, entirely normal. But some version of the truth is always concealed.

A few days after graduating from high school, Lucy Lattimore sneaks away from the small town of Pompey, Ohio, with her charismatic former history teacher. They arrive in Nebraska, in the middle of nowhere, at a long-deserted motel next to a dried-up reservoir, to figure out the next move on their path to a new life. But soon Lucy begins to feel quietly uneasy.

My whole life is a lie, thinks Ryan Schuyler, who has recently learned some shocking news. In response, he walks off the Northwestern University campus, hops on a bus, and breaks loose from his existence, which suddenly seems abstract and tenuous. Presumed dead, Ryan decides to remake himself–through unconventional and precarious means.

Await Your Reply
is a literary masterwork with the momentum of a thriller, an unforgettable novel in which pasts are invented and reinvented and the future is both seductively uncharted and perilously unmoored.


From the Hardcover edition.

Stay Awake
ISBN: 0345530373

Ballantine Books. 2012

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • San Francisco Chronicle


Before the critically acclaimed novels Await Your Reply and You Remind Me of Me, Dan Chaon made a name for himself as a renowned writer of dazzling short stories. Now, in Stay Awake, Chaon returns to that form for the first time since his masterly Among the Missing, a finalist for the National Book Award.


In these haunting, suspenseful stories, lost, fragile, searching characters wander between ordinary life and a psychological shadowland. They have experienced intense love or loss, grief or loneliness, displacement or disconnection—and find themselves in unexpected, dire, and sometimes unfathomable situations.


A father’s life is upended by his son’s night terrors—and disturbing memories of the first wife and child he abandoned

a foster child receives a call from the past and begins to remember his birth mother, whose actions were unthinkable

a divorced woman experiences her own dark version of “empty-nest syndrome”

a young widower is unnerved by the sudden, inexplicable appearances of messages and notes—on dollar bills, inside a magazine, stapled to the side of a tree

and a college dropout begins to suspect that there’s something off, something sinister, in his late parents’ house.


Dan Chaon’s stories feature scattered families, unfulfilled dreamers, anxious souls. They

exist in a twilight realm—in a place by the window late at night when the streets are empty and the world appears to be quiet. But you are up, unable to sleep. So you stay awake.


Praise for Stay Awake


“Eerily beautiful . . . [Chaon] is the modern day John Cheever.”—Boston Sunday Globe


“Powerful and disturbing . . . The shocks in this collection are many.”—The Washington Post


“Chaon is able to create fully realized characters in mere pages. . . . This collection is further proof that Chaon is one of the best fiction writers working right now.”—Omaha World-Herald


“There are not many fiction writers who can do what Dan Chaon can do. . . . [He is] a literary force.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer


“Intense and suspenseful . . . a highly recommended work, not to be missed.”—Library Journal (starred review)


“Mesmerizing . . . gripping, masterful fiction.”—The Plain Dealer


“Superbly disquieting.”—The New York Times Book Review

Ill Will: A Novel
ISBN: 0345476042

Ballantine Books. 2017

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Wall Street Journal • NPR •

The New York Times

Los Angeles Times The Washington Post Kirkus ReviewsPublishers Weekly

“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves.” This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults

despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has

overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient's suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

Praise for Ill Will

“In his haunting, strikingly original new novel, [Dan] Chaon takes formidable risks, dismantling his timeline like a film editor.”The New York Times Book Review


“The scariest novel of the year . . . ingenious . . . Chaon’s novel walks along a garrote stretched taut between Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock.”The Washington Post


Awards

-- '''''Among the Missing''''' -- *Finalist, National Book Award

-- '''''You Remind Me of Me''''' -- *Best Books of the Year, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor and Entertainment Weekly

-- '''''Await Your Reply''''' -- *Notable Book, New York Times

-- *2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters