In Dan Chaon's latest novel Await Your Reply, identity is both prominent and elusive. That is to say, the theme of identity plays a major role, while the identity of the characters can be purposefully blurred. In this stark and beautiful novel, Chaon weaves together three stories: a father and son team of hackers living on the edge in Northern Michigan, a recent high school graduate and her teacher hiding out in an abandoned motel, and a sad-sack magic store employee looking for his diabolical (genius?) twin brother. Any and all of these people may not be who they say or think they are. Using this uncertainty, Chaon masterfully builds suspense and causes his reader to ask, in this age of shifting information & light speed technology, "Who am I?"— Sarah B.
Summer '10 Reading Group List
“This book sets the standard for contemporary literary fiction. Gorgeous writing infuses the increasingly fraught and suspenseful narrative with an otherworldly, ageless quality; in some ways, this story could only happen now, yet its characters and their struggle for a sense of identity are also timeless. The three intertwining narratives each hold their own delights, and are peopled with characters you can care about deeply, and others you wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. In the end, though, even the unappealing tug at your heart.”
— Beth Simpson, Cornerstone Books, Englewood, CO
September 2009 Indie Next List
“Await Your Reply is an unsettling, heartbreaking examination of identity and relationships. Dan Chaon skillfully weaves three separate stories together, and, through well-drawn characters and fascinating subplots, he makes the reader both audience and sleuth, eager for the solution to the mystery, yet reluctant to leave the magic of the prose.”
— Leslie Reiner, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL
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.
About the Author
Dan Chaon is the acclaimed author of Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and You Remind Me of Me, which was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing.
“The brilliant Dan Chaon has done it again. Both a genre-bending whodunit and a profound meditation on identity, Await Your Reply left me breathless with admiration. The pages turn themselves.”—Justin Cronin, author of The Summer Guest
“I’ve been waiting for somebody to write the essential identity-theft novel, and I’m very glad Dan Chaon’s the one to have done it, because he believes in real story and is faithful to the reader.”—Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections
“This is a stunning and beautiful book. I must have read its final pages half a dozen times, just letting what lay packed and coiled within them settle into me. Out of pure loss, Chaon has created real magnificence. Await Your Reply attains a kind of blurry, bloodstained perfection.”—Peter Straub, author of A Dark Matter
“I haven’t had as much sheer fun reading a novel in years. Chaon’s characters are always so beautifully drawn that they hold your attention even when they’re just sitting and thinking. In this breathtaking book, they do that and a whole lot more.”—Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier
“Stunning…. Mr. Chaon succeeds in both creating suspense and making it pay off, but ‘Await Your Reply’ also does something even better. Like the finest of his storytelling heroes, Mr. Chaon manages to bridge the gap between literary and pulp fiction with a clever, insinuating book equally satisfying to fans of either genre. He does travel two roads, even though that guy David Frost said it wasn’t possible."—New York Times
“I was completely hooked—a credit both to Chaon's intricate and suspenseful plotting and to some of the most paranoid material to hit American literature since Don Delillo's White Noise...Await Your Reply is a dark, provocative book; in bringing its three strands together, Chaon has fashioned a braid out of barbed wire.”—New York Times Book Review
“(4 stars) A deliciously disturbing literary thriller. In the end, Await Your Reply is a story that unfolds with chilling precision. You'll be spellbound from start to finish.”—People
“A tender, melancholy meditation on attachment and loss.”— O, The Oprah Magazine
“Far more than an absorbing mystery, in this complex and psychologically astute story Dan Chaon put on a virtuosic display of his literary talent. It's a thrilling example of the best of contemporary literary fiction.” —Bookpage
“Chaon deftly intertwines a trio of story lines, showcasing his characters' individuality by threading subtle connections between and among them with effortless finesse, all the while invoking the complexities of what's real and what's fake with mesmerizing brilliance. This novel’s structure echoes that of his well-received debut–also a book of threes–even as it bests that book’s elegant prose, haunting plot and knockout literary excellence.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“So breathtaking… that the reader practically feels compelled to start the novel anew, just to discover the cues that he’s missed along the way.”—Kirkus Reviews