AWAIT YOUR REPLY
by Dan Chaon

Publisher
:  Ballantine

Pub Date:  
September, 2009

Format:  Hardcover

Accolades
* NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER (Extended)
* Indie Next List

Brief Description
The second novel by the author of the National Book Award Finalist AMONG THE MISSING.

PRAISE FOR AWAIT YOUR REPLY
“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."
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

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“Mesmerizing…Despite the ultramodern, Internet-driven elements of its plot, ‘Await Your Reply’ is rooted in the oldest American concerns. ‘What kind of person,’ Miles [one of the characters] wonders in desperation, ‘decides that they can throw everything away and -- reinvent themselves?’ We know the answer to that question; our ancestors are the answer to that question. But other mysteries lurk in this hypnotic novel that you'll never guess.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“ ‘Await Your Reply’ is a riveting thriller, chock-full of plot twists, and a sober meditation on the erosion of identity in the age of technology…. the book itself will, and should, endure. It's a jolt of adrenaline with a strong dose of existential dread, an eerie snapshot of what we lose, and what we risk, when we turn away from those who love us.”
—Steve Almond, The Los Angeles Times

“Chaon artfully weaves three tales of people running away into a gripping, satisfying read.”
—Entertainment Weekly, “The Must List”

“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.”
—Lucinda Rosenfeld, The New York Times Book Review

“(4 stars) In the end, Await Your Reply is a story that unfolds with chilling precision. 
You'll be spellbound from start to finish.”
—Michelle Green, People

“A tender, melancholy meditation on attachment and loss.”
—Cathleen Medwick, O, The Oprah Magazine

“In his dizzying study of identity in the modern world, Chaon balances the stories of three main characters who, for very different reasons, must reinvent themselves and redefine their lives….Chaon’s fans will be deeply satisfied by this book, and those who've never read him will get a riveting introduction to one of the great literary minds of our day.”
—Laura Buchwald, The New York Post

“In Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply, three stories—a man searching for his mentally ill twin,
a scheming college dropout, and an orphan on the run with her teacher—converge 
in a haunting saga of identity and loss.”
—Parade, “Parade Picks”

“Await Your Reply illuminates what it takes to maintain a true 
identity, on paper and in perception.”
—Jennifer Kay, Associated Press

“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.” 
—Harvey Freedenberg, Bookpage

“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

“Chaon is to the Midwest what Richard Russo is to the Northeast... It’s a tribute to Chaon’s narrative command that each of these parallel narratives sustains the reader’s interest, even though there’s little indication through two-thirds of the novel that these stories will ever intersect. And when they do, the results are so breathtaking in their inevitability that the reader practically feels compelled to start the novel anew, just to discover the cues that he’s missed along the way. [Chaon's] stories established his early reputation. 
He did that. Now he’s doing this.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Front of magazine essay

“(Starred review) 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 “PW Pick of the Week”


Accolades for AWAIT YOUR REPLY


Featured in Entertainment Weekly 2009 Year-End Special: "The Best Fiction"—12/25 & 1/5
Amazon.com/#66 on “Best of the Year” list—10/27
Selected for Salon.com/ Laura Miller’s “Best of 2009” Fiction Picks—12/9
Featured in The Week's "Best Books of 2009"—12/25 & 1/8
Named New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year—12/6
Named New York Times/Janet Maslin’s 10 Favorite Books of Year—11/27
Selected by Publishers Weekly for "Top 10 Books of 2009"—11/2 
Featured in Chicago Tribune's "Favorite Fiction of 2009"—12/4
Named as one of Kansas City Star's Top Books of 2009: Top Six Shortlist—12/4
Named Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Best of the Year—12/27
Akron Beacon Journal (OH)/Best of the Year—12/27
Arizona Republic/Notable Books of 2009—12/12

Media Coverage:

National Print
Parade/Parade Picks—9/6
Associated Press/Review—9/2 
New York Times Book Review/Editor’s Choice—8/30
New York Times/daily review—8/20
Wall Street Journal/Q&A—8/21
Wall Street Journal/Review
USA Today
New York Times Book Review/Review—8/23
People/review 
Entertainment Weekly/Review and Must List
O Magazine/Review 
Bloomberg News/Review 
The Onion/Review 
Poets & Writers/”Page One” Column—Sept/Oct Issue
Bookpage/Review—September 
Southwest Spirit Airlines magazine/Review—August Issue
Library Journal/ Review—6/15
Publishers Weekly/PW Pick of the Week Starred Review—6/8
Kirkus Reviews/Front of the magazine Review/Essay—6/15
PW Show Daily/BEA Feature—5/29
 
National Radio
NPR/Weekend Edition with Liane Hansen
NPR/Fresh Air (Maureen Corrigan review)
 
Local Media
Chicago Tribune/Review—9/5
MetroWest Daily News/Ran AP review—9/6
San Francisco Chronicle/Ran AP review—9/2
Louisville Courier Journal/Ran LA Times review—8/30
Sacramento Bee/New on the Shelves—8/24
Cleveland Scene/interview—8/20
Cape Cod Times/First Words—8/23
Oxford Eagle / interview for Oxford Town
Boston Globe/Review 
Los Angeles Times/Review—8/23
Austin American Statesman/Review—8/23
St. Petersburg Times/Review Assigned
Washington Post Book World/Review—8/26
Miami Herald/Review 
New York Post/Review
Omaha World Herald/Review 
San Antonio Express News/Review 
Cleveland Plain Dealer/Review—8/23
Cleveland Magazine/Review—August
Los Angeles Times/Summer Books Preview—6/7
 
On-Line
New York Newsday on-line/Ran AP review—9/3
Batsegundo.com/Interview—10/19
Popmatters.com/Q & A
The Rumpus/Review and Q & A—week of 8/25
Caroline Leavitt’s blog/Q & A—8/12
Kepler’s Well-Read Donkey/Q & A—8/20
1st Book blog/Q & A
Newshour Arts Beat blog/review—8/26
Curled Up with a Good Book.com/Review 
The Millions blogspot/Q & A with Dan—8/25


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Prior Endorsements and Reviews
“YOU REMIND ME OF ME is one of the strangest, most beautiful, most compelling books I've read in a long time. Unnerving and real, intricately plotted, wonderfully written, it's a Chinese box of a novel, full of hidden pleasures and surprises.”
Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Giants House and Niagara Falls All Over Again

"Dan Chaon's novel You Remind Me Of Me is nothing short of brilliant. The novel is haunting me and I can't stop thinking about it--both as a reader and as a deeply admiring writer. I wish I had a better adjective than superb." 
Caroline Leavitt, author of
Girls in Trouble 

"One of Dan Chaon's many gifts is his ability to probe deeply and delicately into sorrow. This gift serves him beautifully in You Remind me of Me, a novel about adoption, about the quiet sadness that lies at the bottom of all his characters' troubles."
Jane Hamilton, author of
A Map of The World

“Beautiful, painful, and sure-footed, YOU REMIND ME OF ME tracks the delicate connections between a handful of lost and poignant lives, in the process giving them the radiance of a stained glass window. What a writer. Dan Chaon is going to have a breathtaking literary career.”
Peter Straub

“Dan Chaon's meticulous and insightful novel "You Remind Me of Me" is such an important achievement….it is fundamentally a tale of identity sought, borrowed, rejected and then reborn in the minds of its characters. But Chaon does not let the reader off with simple conclusions. Rather, he reminds us constantly how much in fluctuation life's choices really are, and how much we contribute to our own views of what we have become. The novel is also a riddle about connections, and it begins in four apparently disparate directions that eventually come together with an unsettling and heartrending unity.”
--
David Hellman is a librarian at San Francisco State University and past chairman of the American Library Association's Notable Books Council

(for Among the Missing)

"One of the best short story writers around . . . Dan Chaon’s stories are funny, heartbreaking, beautifully written, and intelligently conceived."
–Lorrie Moore
Bestselling author of Birds of America

"An important collection of stories.  A genuinely literary accomplishment."
–Ha Jin
National Book Award-winning author

"With a story like [‘Big Me’] from the marvelous writer Dan Chaon, I am confronted not only with an unfathomable mystery such as that of the endurance of a single human identity over time, but also with new proof of the enduring value of telling tales in the ongoing struggle to understand those mysteries."
–Michael Chabon
Pulitzer Prize-winning author

"These stories are filled with a wicked innocence, a wonderful way of seeing what is new in the way we live the lives we've grown used to. He makes us feel the fearfulness available--given the right light, the wrong music--from the ordinary. He honors his readers and his characters with direct language, compelling moments, and a chance to see clearly what is coming toward them."
--Frederick Busch

"Dan Chaon writes with superlative craft and compassion about people who step out of their ordinary lives and into mysteries. These are wonderful stories: tough, spooky and full of heart."
--Jean Thompson, author of National Book Award Nominee Who Do You Love?

"With searing tenderness and astonishing grace, Dan Chaon conjures the magical worlds where a young widow may glimpse the divine in an inflatable doll or a flamboyant macaw may repeat a rapist's mocking words. These are stories with dark edges, peopled by characters who face the limits of rage and despair.  But in the midst of turmoil, Dan Chaon holds fast to his own sense of the whimsical and the absurd. He sees his people with delight; he offers us visions of hope and awe through his own fearless compassion."
---Melanie Rae Thon

"In AMONG THE MISSING, Dan Chaon movingly parses the omnipresence of absence in our lives. Among the missing in these stories are: a brother-in-law imprisoned for serial rape; the children of a lonely sperm donor; a family mysteriously drowned in a car; a runaway mother; a lost son; a dead husband; a stillborn daughter; and the million imaginary inhabitants of Beck, Nebraska. And, most importantly, the many missing persons that comprise a self, those versions of ourselves that we abandon over the years and that "end up nearly forgotten, mumbling and gasping for air in some tenement room of our consciousness." Among the found is Dan Chaon, a brilliant and important new voice in American fiction. We will all be reading his mysterious and beautiful stories sooner or later. I suggest sooner."
--David Jauss
(author of BLACK MAPS)

"Within these pages Chaon's lonely protagonists struggle to invent or erase themselves. Their histories are disordered, their futures uncertain. But for the reader the pleasures involved are indelible. These are memorable, mighty stories told by a master. An asbolutely stupendous collection! I recommend it with all my heart."
Karen Joy Fowler, author of Sarah Canary, The Sweetheart Season and Black Glass

"AMONG THE MISSING is moving, powerful, clear-eyed and compassionate. Dan Chaon can compress grief, rage, passion and forgiveness into a page, a paragraph, a sentence--the palm of a hand. This is a terrific book."
Leigh Allison Wilson, author of Wind and From the Bottom Up

"AMONG THE MISSING is a startling glimpse into Dan Chaon's strange fictional world. In tight clean prose he renders story after story brimming with equal parts menace and grace. His stories haunt and amaze
lingering like great fiction should."
Elwood Reid, author of If I Don't Six and What Salmon Know 

 

Reviews

“Three lives viewed through a kaleidoscope of memories and secret pain assume a kind of mythical dimension in Chaon’s piercingly poignant tale of fate, chance and search for redemption. As he demonstrated in his short story collection Among the Missing, Chaon has a sensitive radar for the daily routines of people striving to escape the margins of poverty and establish meaningful lives. …Chaon’s clarity of observation, expressed in restrained, nuanced prose, coupled with his compassion for his flawed characters, creates a heart-wrenching story of people searching for connection.
Forecast: Readers of Kent Haruf will find similarities here, in the settings in small towns on the Great Plains and in the dignified portrayal of people leading secret, stoic lives. Eight-city author tour. 
--Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

"Acclaimed storywriter Chaon (AMONG THE MISSING,2001,etc) affirms his matchless skill in crafting the small sketch...The initial handful of chapters here, in fact, read like a fresh collection of stories, distinguished as usual by the shy, cutting honesty of Chaon's prose...his final vignette leaves the reader astonished once again...[a] powerful, promising writer."
--Kirkus

"Chaon follow a ravishing short story collection, AMONG THE MISSING (2001), with a grimly compelling first novel...Chaon's finely crafted novel is cogent and suspenseful."
--Booklist

“In this impressive intergenerational saga from onetime National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon, the modern American family is barely family at all: Its members are variously orphaned, abandoned or absentee….Chaon's restless narrative zooms back and forth from the 1960s to the 1970s to the 1990s, constantly updating, revisiting and revealing. Each turn of "You Remind Me of Me" adds another layer of flesh — and mystery — to Jonah, Troy and their forlorn mother, three archetypal Americans who don't know each other from Adam but are bound together nevertheless.”
--Los Angeles Times

“Chaon’s meticulous pacing, and the controlled nuance with which he (an adoptee who has written about his own awkward meeting with his natural father) handles Jonah’s and Troy’s interaction, make this a quietly ambitious novel”.
--Time Out New York

“Chaon deftly reveals the quiet suffering of ordinary people in a way that can be uncomfortably realistic but is always compelling”.
--People

“Chaon’s remarkable first novel begins with snapshots that recall his talent for short stories (his 2001 collection, Among the missing, was a National Book Award finalist)”.
--Entertainment Weekly

You remind Me of Me is not technically horror or suspense, but it does generate plenty of tension, in its very sensitivity to tha perils and misadventures of domestic life. … Chaon plays with the reader’s expectations in a way that is accomplished and full of pleasure for lovers of good suspense fiction, and You remind Me of Me, along with its literary merits, is a very good scary novel. … You remind Me of Me, expertly written and crafted, is an admirable first novel and one of this year’s most involving and satisfying fictions”.
--The Plain Dealer

You remind Me of Me is the first novel by an author already established for mournful, eloquent short stories with a tone reminiscent of Russell Banks’s. Mr. Chaon’s stories heve been about emotional ellipses in his characters’ lonely lives”.
--New York Times

“ … vivid, unadorned prose, which manages at once to be precise and dreamlike. …the book succeeds because it makes us feel its characters’ pain and inhabit a world in which desperate measures often seem like the only ones avaliable”.
--Washington Post

“You Remind Me of Me by Dan Chaon (Ballantine, $24.95), another debut novel, is a kaleidoscope of memories, painful revelations and tragic legacies that converge to become a piercing and poignant tale….At first these chapters read like a series of short stories, but then the common threads begin to emerge, and the author seamlessly weaves a tale of family relations and fate. This first novel by National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon is sometimes painful but always provocative in its steadfast portrayal of people pushed beyond their limits."
PW Daily--Kristin Kloberdanz, a journalist with Time, offers these recommendations in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune

"In his masterly first novel, Chaon tells an absorbing tale of fate and the struggle for recovery and human connection.  Readers who prefer expertly crafted plotting  and strong characterization will be drawn to this novel. Highly recommended for public library system with an emphasis on literary fiction and for anyone interested in promising first novelists." 
--Library Journal (STARRED REVIEW
)

"Chaon's masterful effort from 2001, Among the Missing (a National Book Award finalist,) was, as it turns out, merely the precursor to something even better: specific case in point, his new novel, You Remind Me of Me. ….Chaon's great gift — the ability to submerge readers into the heart and soul of a character with a rarified economy of words — is happily playing as the marqueed forefront in this superb new book. ….Chaon fans will find great satisfaction in this, his return to an examination of the magnificently complicated existences of just plain folk."
--The Boox Review

 

(for Among the Missing)
From Publishers Weekly
In the 12 quietly accomplished stories of his second collection, Chaon explores the complicated geography of human relationships, from the unintentional failures and minute betrayals of daily existence to the numbing grief caused by abandonment, disappearance or death. Specific and disquieting absences an uncle who killed himself, a mother who vanished, a friend who was kidnapped haunt the protagonists, and a series of metaphoric and literal stand-ins take the place of what's missing. In "Safety Man," a dummy intended for crime deterrence propped in the passenger seat, it looks like a male companion becomes a kind of surrogate husband for a young widow, and for her daughters, an inflatable father; in "I Demand to Know Where You're Taking Me," a woman caring for her incarcerated brother-in-law's macaw comes to loathe the bird, its ugly talk transforming it into a symbol of everything wrong and incomprehensible about him. By and large, Chaon's characters are citizens of the emotional hinterlands, lonely even when surrounded: "How did people go about falling in love, getting married, having families, living their lives?" Even those who think they know the answers recognize their powerlessness, such as the father who, looking into his son's eyes, thinks, "I am aware that hatred is a definite possibility at the end of the long tunnel of parenthood, and I suspect that there is little one can do about it." And yet these stories are neither morbid nor even particularly melancholic. Singularly dedicated to an examination of all the profundity and strangeness of the quotidian, they are, in their best moments, unsettling, moving, even beautiful. (July 3)Forecast: A jacket blurb by Lorrie Moore and a five-city author tour may help sell this understated collection, which will be respectfully reviewed but may be overlooked on bookstore shelves.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist *Starred Review*
People go missing both literally and figuratively in Chaon's beautiful and insightful stories, most of which are set in small, muffled Midwest towns. In "Passengers, Remain Calm," 22-year-old Hollis, reflective and immensely kind, tries hard to let F. D., his 8-year-old nephew, know that he loves him without making F. D.'s father, who has inexplicably disappeared, look bad. Another expressive narrator is haunted by a long-held secret associated with the vanishing of his boyhood friend. As each of Chaon's profoundly thoughtful characters discovers, missing selves are just as distressing as missing people. A young father is astonished at how quickly he becomes a caricature dad, and he mourns the loss of his "real" self. In a curious reversal, the lonely boy in "Big Me" becomes obsessed with a boozy neighbor who, he fears, embodies his future. Riveting and unpredictable, each pristine tale of absence looms like the proverbial tip of the iceberg as Chaon succeeds brilliantly in suggesting the immensity and mystery floating silently below the surface of everyday life, shadowy compressions of all the complicated and contradictory thoughts and feelings that humans conceal from each other out of fear and love. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From Library Journal
Short stories don't usually get this much hype a two-page spread in the catalog, no less but Chaon has done well with his works: they have appeared in the "Distinguished Stories" section of The Pushcart Prize six times and in Best American Short Stories three times. These pieces focus on people just trying to get by in America today.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Amazon.com's Best of 2001
Dan Chaon opens his new collection of stories with an epigraph from Raymond Carver: "Whatever this was all about, it was not a vain attempt--journey." This is pretty opaque stuff from Carver, a writer not much given to mystification. But it strikes just the right note for Chaon's assembly of characters, a group vaguely unsettled by life, trying to make the best of it. First and foremost, this is a book beset by moms. You get the feeling that the characters in Among the Missing never really had a chance to figure out the world, with these cryptic, uncommunicative women to care for them. In the title story, for example, a car is discovered at the bottom of a local lake, with an entire family drowned inside. The college-age narrator, however, is preoccupied by the more mundane puzzle of his parents' relationship. "Somehow," he recounts, "they'd stayed married for twenty years, and then, abruptly, somehow they'd decided to give up. It didn't quite make sense, and I looked at them, for a minute aware of the other mystery in my life. 'Do you want some soup?' my mother asked, as if I were a customer."
         That's about as much as you'll ever get out of one of Chaon's mothers: soup. When not fielding their aging parents' passivity, these characters seem to spend a lot of time grappling with ghosts. The "missing" of the title story are, literally, gone. In "Safety Man," a widow comes to rely on one of those inflatable dolls meant to intimidate intruders. In "Prosthesis," a young wife and mother falls for a stranger with a missing arm; meanwhile, she watches her son grow up and away from her, "disappearing into his own thoughts and feelings." In the end, Chaon is the rare writer who deserves comparison to Carver: both write an affectless prose that takes on a surprisingly emotional life of its own. --Claire Dederer

(for Fitting Ends)

From Publishers Weekly

Anyone who has ever toyed with the idea of staying in school an extra year in order to delay the sobering responsibilities of adulthood will identify with the people in Chaon's first collection. Familial burdens, sexual confusion and unchallenging jobs are just a few of the impediments to the happiness of these 20-something characters, leaving them disillusioned and powerless to move on. It is especially poignant in ``Rapid Transit,'' when the transition from fair-haired collegian to entry-level lackey stirs up some scary emotions. In ``Fraternity,'' a party-boy rejects reality even as ``the music faded, the lights came up.'' Many seek constancy from family members, only to find that they too are changing beyond their control. One man looks to his ailing grandmother for some order, while another hunts down his biological mother to provide ``whatever's missing'' in his life. Mired in the present, the characters often glorify the past: ``Scott had felt ashamed to have such fond memories, and so little desire to start over.'' The stories are deftly written and brilliantly structured, with titillating beginnings and somewhat cryptic endings. The prospect for this generation is not grim, Chaon seems to say; it's just uncertain.
Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
News reports from small towns on the Nebraska prairie tend to dwell on the greying of a way of life, but Chaon's first collection of short stories is more concerned with the life still taking place that passes underneath the radar of public regard. Thus, "Transformations" tells of the homecoming of a newly uncloseted homosexual from the point of view of his younger brother; "Dread" is the story of a young man living with his brother and sister-in-law in Chicago who spills the beans about his brother's affair. Most of the stories deal simply with simple themes (the exception being "My Sister's Honeymoon: A Videotape," a more experimental piece about a brother reflecting on the changes brought about by his sister's marriage that is organized by the time tag of a video camera). It is in the telling, the subtle shifts of perspective, and the transformation of character in a short space that distinguish Chaon as a writer to watch. Though most of his stories seem suspended rather than concluded (an unfortunate trademark of university writing programs, of which Chaon is a product), this is a very respectable first effort; it's unfortunate that the high hardcover price might keep this work out of smaller libraries. For collections of literary fiction.

World Rights:  Contact Ballantine

Dramatic RightsContact Lukeman


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