Dan Chaon

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Dan Chaon is our guest this week. The National Book Award finalist will be discussing his literary suspense novel, ILL WILL, (Ballantine Books, March 2017).  

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Dan Chaon has written three short story collections and three novels. His latest book is the literary suspense novel, ILL WILL, (Ballantine Books, March 2017).  

Dan’s short story collection, Among the Missing, was a finalist for the National Book Award. His novel, You Remind Me of Me, was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. His novel, Await Your Reply, which was a New York Times Notable Book and appeared on more than a dozen best-of-the-year lists.

Dan has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His short stories have won the Pushcart Prize and the O. Henry Award.  

He graduated from Northwestern University and received his MA from Syracuse University. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio and serves as a Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Oberlin College.


Reviews for ILL WILL, (Ballantine Books, March 2017) 

“In his haunting, strikingly original new novel, 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

“Imagine the shower scene in Psycho, extended across eleven sections and three decades, with multiple unsolved mysteries. That’s the level of intensity Chaon achieves in this dark, provocative thriller.”—BBC
“Powerful . . . Chaon is one of America’s best and most dependable writers, and in the end, Ill Will is a ruthlessly ‘realistic’ piece of fiction about the unrealistic beliefs people entertain about their world.”Los Angeles Times

 “Outstanding . . . Chaon’s writing is cool and precise, but his story is thrillingly unstable. It also boasts, at the end, a traditional horror-novel payoff I didn’t see coming—Stephen King couldn’t have done it better.”The Wall Street Journal

“If you’re up for being caught in a seamy heartland underbelly of fear, superstition, and paranoia, with side excursions through urban legend and recovered-memory hysteria, Ill Will is your book. . . . Chaon’s powers of description are impressive. . . . His knack for leaving sentences tellingly unfinished and thoughts menacingly incomplete . . . is perfect.”The Boston Globe

“This intriguing novel about a tightly wired criminal psychologist with a murky past has the tension of a thriller plus the emotional release of justice finally served.”O: The Oprah Magazine
“Powerfully unsettling . . . There’s a lot going on under the surface of Ill Will—more than one reading will reveal. Going back and reading this oddly compelling book again will only provide more pleasure.”Chicago Tribune
“Terrifically eerie . . . Too few writers prize atmosphere as much as narrative tautness. With Ill Will, Chaon succeeds at delivering both.”The Dallas Morning News

 “Intensely readable . . . In this creepy yet fascinating work, with a bleak Ohio wintery landscape as backdrop, Chaon creates a world of tragedy, disease, and drug abuse right out of today’s news and makes it real while keeping readers guessing on many levels.”–Library Journal (starred review)

“For this exceptional and emotionally wrenching novel, Chaon plants the seeds of new manias into the hard, unforgiving ground that will be familiar to his readers… With impressive skill, across multiple narratives that twine, fracture, and rest, Chaon expertly realizes his singular vision of American Dread.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 “A dark genre-bending thriller . . . Chaon has mastered multiple psychologically complex and often fearsome characters. A shadowy narrative that’s carried well by the author’s command and insight.”Kirkus (starred review)

 “Chaon has created another of those twilight realms of which he is an indisputable master. The book’s characters plumb the depths of deception and surpass all established measures of instability and dysfunction. . . . If the definition of eeriness is indeed ‘strange, suspicious, and unnatural,’ the definers of the genre (Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Shirley Jackson, Peter Straub, etc.) have a worthy heir in Dan Chaon.”–Booklist

“Chaon faithfully carries out his responsibility to keep the mystery plots . . . simmering in a pressure cooker of suspense and emotion. While doing so, he manages to summon the atmospheres of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs.”—Shelf Awareness

“In Chaon’s capable hands, [Ill Will] is a brilliant depiction of mental illness. Not a pretty picture, but masterfully painted.”—BookPage

Ill Will not only confirms Chaon as among our country’s finest writers but makes clear that he is one of our bravest and most inventive. He embraces risks that would have most novelists turning pale and making the sign of the cross. It’s stunning. Read it right now.”—Peter Straub, author of The Throat

For more information, please see DanChaon.com.