Support Local Journalism. Donate to Cleveland Scene.

The Writer: Dan Chaon 



Cleveland's biggest name in fiction is an unassuming Irishman who loves Parnell's Pub on Lee Road and is psyched about the library he's built in his Cleveland Heights home.

"I wanted the builders to install a secret room behind  one of the shelves, but they wouldn't go for it," says Chaon (pronounced Shawn). "But it was always my dream to have a library. It's one of these old Cleveland Heights homes with more space than I know what to do with."  

Chaon moved to Cleveland in 1990 when his wife got a teaching gig at Cleveland State. For a while, he was bopping around doing odd jobs — catering, bartending — before his first short-story collection, Fitting Ends, was published in 1996.

Chaon now teaches  at Oberlin, but he likes to have his work life and personal/writing life somewhat separate. Cleveland has and will continue to play a key role in Chaon's fiction.

"I really like the landscape, the Rust Belt sensibility," Chaon says, "the fact that parts of town are falling apart. There's a sort of quasi-apocalyptic quality to it."

Writers have been known to flock to New York City after achieving certain thresholds of fame and recognition — thresholds Chaon has most certainly eclipsed. His short stories have received Pushcart Prizes, the O. Henry Award, and have been included in the Best American Short Stories series. His 2001 novel Among the Missing was a finalist for the National Book Award; his 2009 novel Await Your Reply ­— much of which is set in Cleveland — appeared on multiple year-end Top 10 lists.  

But Chaon loves living in Cleveland, where "people generally are cool about stuff." So for now, he'll keep working at his home office on his new novel and a TV pilot about bank robbers in the 1970s.

"I've got a lot in the pipeline," says Chaon.

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Scene Magazine has been keeping Cleveland informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources, especially as we all deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything Scene is about -- our stories, our events, our advertisers -- comes down to getting together. With events on hold, and no print distribution for the foreseeable future, every little bit helps.

A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Scene. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.

Latest in Cleveland People


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation