A high speed and darkly comic road trip through a near future American with a big hearted mercenary, from beloved and acclaimed novelist Dan Chaon
Sleepwalk’s hero, Will Bear, is a man with so many aliases that he simply thinks of himself as the Barely Blur. At fifty years old, he’s been living off the grid for over half his life. He’s never had a real job, never paid taxes, never been in a committed relationship. A good-natured henchman with a complicated and lonely past and a passion for LSD microdosing, he spends his time hopscotching across state lines in his beloved camper van, running sometimes shady often dangerous errands for a powerful and ruthless operation he’s never troubled himself to learn too much about. He has lots of connections, but no true ties. His longest relationships are with an old rescue dog that has post-traumatic stress, and a childhood friend as deeply entrenched in the underworld as he is, who, lately, he’s less and less sure he can trust.
Out of the blue, one of Will's many burner phones heralds a call from a twenty-year-old woman claiming to be his biological daughter. She says she’s the product of one of his long-ago sperm donations; he’s half certain she’s AI. She needs his help. She’s entrenched in a widespread and nefarious plot involving Will’s employers, and for Will to continue to have any contact with her increasingly fuzzes the line between the people he is working for and the people he’s running from.
With his signature blend of haunting emotional realism and fast-paced intrigue, Dan Chaon populates his fractured America with characters who ring all too true. Gazing both back to the past and forward to an inevitable-enough-seeming future, Sleepwalk examines where we’ve been and where we’re going and the connections that bind us, no matter how far we travel to dodge them or how cleverly we hide.
About the Author
Dan Chaon is the author of six previous books, including Ill Will, a national bestseller, named one of the ten best books of 2017 by Publishers Weekly. Other works include the short story collection Stay Awake (2012), a finalist for the Story Prize; the national bestseller Await Your Reply; and Among the Missing, a finalist for the National Book Award. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in the Best American Short Stories, the Pushcart Prize Anthologies, and the O. Henry Collection. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction and the Shirley Jackson Award, and he was the recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland.
Advance Praise for Sleepwalk
“Sleepwalk is a deeply satisfying thriller: the misadventures of a journeyman criminal crisscrossing an American hellscape. Though Dan Chaon’s novels are never quite what they seem, this book still surprises—it’s a frightening indictment of corporate power and the surveillance state, as well as a tender story about the depth of parental love. What an absolute marvel.”
—Rumaan Alam, author of the 2020 National Book Award Finalist Leave the World Behind
“Sleepwalk is an addictive dystopian picaresque, by turns darkly funny, deeply harrowing, and surprisingly poignant. Dan Chaon’s vision of our future will give you chills of dread and recognition.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers and Mrs. Fletcher
“Dan Chaon just keeps getting better, stranger, and harder to predict. Sleepwalk is an amiable apocalyptic epic, narrated by the sweetest, most charming deadly itinerant mercenary I’ve encountered in fiction, and it never fails to surprise and delight. To every pandemic survivor haunting the earth with their phone at 3 percent, this creepy, weirdly optimistic campfire tale is for you.”
—J. Robert Lennon, author of Subdivision
"Will Bear’s burner phones are all ringing from the same source: a voice claiming to be his daughter. But as the for-hire bag man and thug flees and then pursues her, Bear is forced to reconstruct his past as he navigates the dangers of an America going to pieces. Set in troublingly probable future and full of heartbreak, Dan Chaon’s Sleepwalk is nevertheless an achievement of humor, tenderness and human connection."
—Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July creek
“Beautifully weird and wonderfully wild, Dan Chaon's Sleepwalk is a suspenseful cat and mouse chase through an unnervingly recognizable future that forces us to question who we are, where we come from, and what we know about ourselves and others. Filled with brilliantly bleak humor, unflinchingly raw emotional insight, and an unforgettable journeyman mercenary, Chaon takes us on a riveting road trip through a county past the point of no return. A marvel in the offing.”
—Ivy Pochoda, author of Wonder Valley
"Dan Chaon's future America may be truly wrecked but it's also familiar and perhaps quintessential. Out of this wreckage Chaon has constructed a gloriously entertaining page turner of a novel. Bravo!"
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Lake Success
Past Praise for Dan Chaon
“In his haunting, strikingly original new novel [Ill Will], Chaon takes formidable risks, dismantling his timeline like a film editor.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Chaon is one of America’s best and most dependable writers..."
—Los Angeles Times
“Following writers like Richard Matheson and Shirley Jackson, Dan Chaon writes in the spooky tradition of suburban gothic. . . . [His] writing is cool and precise, but his story is thrillingly unstable."
—The Wall Street Journal
“[Chaon] is the modern day John Cheever.”
—Boston Sunday Globe