Dan Chaon is better known in the US than he is in the UK, and it is hoped that his fourth novel will remedy that sorry state of affairs. Sleepwalk is both insane and insanely brilliant. Will Bear is a loveable renegade, who wouldn’t be out of place in The Big Lebowski, operating in a dystopian near future. As off-grid as they come, he works as a kind of jack-of-all-trades for a sinister mafia-style organisation moving contraband goods, drugs and even babies for them. He also kills when necessary.
Everything changes when a woman purporting to be his daughter makes contact, telling him she is only one of his many offspring, who all stem from donations he made to a sperm bank for some easy money many years before. Bear, who has been completely disengaged from the world, suddenly finds an emotional connection and purpose that threaten to derail his hippyish, if illicit and occasionally violent existence.
Chris Deerin is a journalist and the director of Reform Scotland
Sleepwalk by Dan Chaon is out now (Corsair, £20).You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.
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