Photo by Zeromusta
We did put up the bio of our 2010 Fiction Prize judge, Dan Chaon, but we wanted to talk some more about his work! I especially found his 2001 short story collection, Among the Missing, a startling and unsettling read. There are definitely themes at work here, metaphoric doors left hanging ajar, things missing and unexplained, disappearances, abductions, gaps in time and memory. The moments in these stories don't always form linear, clear-cut epiphanies. But the moments do draw us in, provoke us to ask questions, and imprint themselves into our consciousnesses. They surprise. They linger. They're powerful because they remind us of our own fears and relationships, the times we open newspapers and see a blurb about a tragedy in our neighborhood, our cities. The stories examine how people deal with what's missing in their lives.
His novel, Await Your Reply, published just last year, is similarly concerned with questions and issues of identity, secrets, runaways, coincidences. The title alludes to a spam email that you might get after foolishly submitting your electronic address somewhere. (We get tons of those emails, by the way -- every version you can think of. An elderly woman who begins with "Dear," an African prince, a government, a billionaire...) You don't know who's on the other end, who's waiting for you to respond.