Evan Dara

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Evan Dara
GenreLiterary Fiction
Literary movementPostmodernism
Notable worksThe Lost Scrapbook (1995)
The Easy Chain (2008)
Flee (2013)
Provisional Biography of Mose Eakins (2018)
Permanent Earthquake (2021)

Evan Dara is an American novelist. He has published four novels and one play, which are concerned with subjects including social atomization, music, political dysfunction, epistemology, ecology, and time. The Times Literary Supplement (London) called Dara "one of the most exciting American novelists writing today."[1]

Widely believed to be using a pseudonym, Dara has given no interviews and has issued no photographs, and has chosen to publish his novels through his own press, Aurora. His work has been almost totally unacknowledged by the commercial American literary community—Australian critic Emmett Stinson has called Dara "the best-kept secret in all of contemporary American literature"—but he has received exceptional acclaim from underground and alternative sites.[2][3][4][5][6] His books have been the subject of numerous scholarly articles and theses, and have been taught in dozens of colleges and universities across the world.

Four months after Dara’s first publication in Spanish, his work was included in a Madrid University course on the great American novel, where Dara's work was read alongside that of Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac, Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon, and Toni Morrison.[7] The only other writer of Dara's generation to be included in this survey was David Foster Wallace.[8]

In 1995, his first novel, The Lost Scrapbook, won the 12th Annual FC2 Illinois State University National Fiction Competition judged by William T. Vollmann.[9] Dara's second novel, The Easy Chain, was published by Aurora Publishers in 2008. A third novel, Flee, was published by Aurora in 2013. His fourth novel, Permanent Earthquake, was published by Aurora in June 2021.

On July 26, 2018, Dara released his first play, titled Provisional Biography of Mose Eakins. The play was only offered in eBook form (ePub, Mobi, and PDF), and the publisher had originally stipulated that readers should download it for free and only make a donation after they finish it (the copy is no longer available for download on Aurora Publishers' website).[10][11]

In 2020, the critic Daniel Green published the first comprehensive look at Dara's novels, called "Giving Voice: On the Work of Evan Dara."[12] Green writes that:

If nothing else, it is obvious once one begins reading these novels that the author wants to subvert any presumptions we might have that the novel we are reading will bear enough family resemblance to those we have read before that it will be explicable according to the “rules” we believe we have learned about how novels should proceed....Indeed, in the challenge they pose to the assumption that the conventional patterns define the novel as a form, Dara’s novels are arguably the most radically disruptive books in American fiction since, say, Gilbert Sorrentino in a work like Mulligan Stew (1979).[13]

In the summer of 2021, Dara published his first novel since Flee, called Permanent Earthquake. The novel follows the experience of a young man living on an unnamed island in the Caribbean which has been undergoing a non-stop earthquake for the past few months. In describing the book, n+1 noted:

Written in urgent, teetering prose that never once loses its grip on place or reality—however tenuous that reality might be—Permanent Earthquake is a novel that feels at once timeless and eerily well suited to our ongoing moment of permanent instability.[14]

In an interview for The Booker Prize, Richard Powers noted some of the writers to whom he was indebted for his 2021 novel, Bewilderment.

The book has its roots in two different worlds.  It is, in part, a novel about the anxiety of family life on a damaged planet, and for that, I’m indebted to writers as varied as Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, Evan Dara, Don Delillo, and Lauren Groff.[15]


As opposed to other reclusive American writers such as J.D. Salinger, Thomas Pynchon, and Harper Lee, nothing is known about Dara's background or the reasons why he writes under a pseudonym. And unlike the pseudonymous Elena Ferrante, Dara has never given an interview or commented on his books. However, he has responded on separate occasions about the influence of William Gaddis on his style. In an indirect reply to a query from the critic Tom LeClair—in which he confirmed that he uses a pseudonym—Dara denied having read either The Recognitions or J R.[16] In 2014, the critic Steven Moore followed up on this question:

"Asked about Gaddis’s possible influence, Dara told me that while working on The Lost Scrapbook he heard that J R was a novel in dialogue and checked it out from The American Library in Paris: ‘Took the novel home, plunked it open, tapped it shut — didn’t want the influence’ (email January 19, 2014).”[17]


The first edition of The Lost Scrapbook was published in 1995 by Fiction Collective Two, or FC2, which was then based at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. The manuscript was originally brought to the publisher's attention by novelist Richard Powers, who described how he received it:

“Several kilos of transatlantic, boat-rate typescript arrived on my stoop without prior warning of contents, and I’ve been grateful ever since. Dara shows how a novel can be experimental, yet moral, rule breaking but emotional, and post-humanist while still remaining deeply human. This scrapbook builds in stretches until the whole police blotter cum family album lies open in aerial view. Monumental, unforgiving, cunning and heartfelt, it lets no one off the hook, least of all the reader.”[18][19]

The mystery surrounding Dara combined with the fact that Powers very rarely provides blurbs led some to speculate that Powers might be the man behind the nom de plume.[20] Nonetheless, despite very little press coverage and limited publicity, the book has been taught at over 25 universities and been the subject of significant scholarly inquiry.

In 2008, Dara released The Easy Chain through Aurora Publishers, a venture he founded along with another partner.[21] He followed this up with Flee, which was published by Aurora in 2013.

Dara published his first play, Provisional Biography of Mose Eakins, in 2018. It was translated into Portuguese in 2020.[22]

His most recent novel is Permanent Earthquake, which was published in 2021.


A Spanish translation of Dara's The Lost Scrapbook was published by Málaga-based publisher Pálido Fuego in 2015, entitled El Cuaderno Perdido.[23] Estado Critico recognized it with the Best Translation Award of 2015.[24]

A Spanish translation of The Easy Chain was also published by Pálido Fuego in 2019, called La cadena fácil.[25] El Plural named it one of the most solid and imaginative novels of the year ("una de las novelas más sólidas e imaginativas del año).[26]


  • The Lost Scrapbook (1995)
    • Translation: El Cuaderno Perdido (2015)
    • Translation: O caderno perdido (2022)
  • The Easy Chain (2008)
    • Translation: La cadena fácil (2019)
  • Flee (2013)
  • Provisional Biography of Mose Eakins (2018)
  • Permanent Earthquake (2021)


  • Winner of 12th Annual FC2 National Fiction Competition[27]
  • Estado Critico: Best Translation Award of 2015[28]

Further reading[edit]

  • Burn, S.J. (2009) "Economies of the Self: Review of Evan Dara's The Easy Chain." American Book Review, 30(4), p. 18.[29]
  • Green, Jeremy (2005). Late Postmodernism: American Fiction at the Millennium. Palgrave.
  • O'Donnell, Patrick (2010). The American Novel Now: Reading Contemporary American Fiction Since 1980. Wiley-Blackwell.[30]
  • Saladrigas, R. (2017). En tierras de ficción: Recorrido por la narrativa contemporanea, de Edgar Allan Poe a Evan Dara. Palencia (España: Menoscuarto).[31]
  • Stinson, E. (2017). Satirizing modernism: Aesthetic autonomy, romanticism, and the avant-garde. Bloomsbury Academic.[32]


  1. ^ "Suburbscapes of the disappeared – TheTLS". www.the-tls.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-09-30.
  2. ^ "21 Books That Will Enrich Your Summer". The FADER. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  3. ^ "The Easy Chain by Evan Dara | Quarterly Conversation". quarterlyconversation.com. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  4. ^ "inchoatia: Evan Dara, The Lost Scrapbook (1995)". inchoatia.blogspot.nl. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  5. ^ "The Lost Scrapbook, Evan Dara". Eco-Fiction. 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  6. ^ Stinson, Emmett (2011-05-11). "Book Review: The Easy Chain". Known Unknowns. Retrieved 2017-09-30.
  7. ^ "En busca de la gran novela americana. Curso de literatura estadounidense". Libreria La Sombra (in European Spanish). 2016-02-10. Retrieved 2017-09-30.
  8. ^ "[Agenda Canina] Seminario de literatura estadounidensne en La Sombra - Canino". Canino (in European Spanish). 2016-02-18. Retrieved 2017-09-30.
  9. ^ Poets & Writers, Inc. Grants & Awards 1995 September/October 1998. Accessed September 22, 2006. Archived January 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Evan Dara – Provisional Biography of Mose Eakins". The Evan Dara Affinity. 2018-07-26. Retrieved 2021-12-02.
  11. ^ Turner, Edwin (2018-10-06). "Blog about Evan Dara's two-act play Provisional Biography of Mose Eakins". Biblioklept. Retrieved 2021-12-02.
  12. ^ "Giving Voice: On the Work of Evan Dara". The Reading Experience. Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  13. ^ "Giving Voice: On the Work of Evan Dara". The Reading Experience. Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  14. ^ "This Pitiless Choreography". n+1. 2021-08-15. Retrieved 2021-12-02.
  15. ^ "Richard Powers: An interview | The Booker Prizes". thebookerprizes.com. Retrieved 2021-08-16.
  16. ^ "MIXED RECEPTIONS". Bookforum. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  17. ^ William Gaddis, Expanded Edition (NY: Bloomsbury, 2015), p. 213 n.9
  18. ^ "praying for a nerve cell with all the soul of my chemical reactions and going right on down where the eye sees only traces". www.blckdgrd.com. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  19. ^ "Steve Russillo's Easy Chain page". russillosm.com. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  20. ^ "Is Richard Powers Evan Dara?". CR. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  21. ^ "MIXED RECEPTIONS". Bookforum. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  22. ^ SeTIC-UFSC. "Qorpus". Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  23. ^ "El cuaderno perdido – Evan Dara | Pálido Fuego". www.palidofuego.com (in European Spanish). 16 March 2015. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  24. ^ "Premios EC 2015 | Estado Crítico". www.criticoestado.es (in European Spanish). Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  25. ^ "La cadena fácil - Evan Dara". Pálido Fuego (in Spanish). 2019-08-25. Retrieved 2021-12-02.
  26. ^ "'La cadena fácil', de Evan Dara". El Plural (in Spanish). 5 October 2019. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  27. ^ "Title – Rightsdesk Worldwide". www.rightsdesk.com. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  28. ^ "Premios EC 2015 | Estado Crítico". www.criticoestado.es (in European Spanish). Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  29. ^ "Economies of the Self". American Book Review. 30 (4).
  30. ^ "Wiley: The American Novel Now: Reading Contemporary American Fiction Since 1980 - Patrick O'Donnell". www.wiley.com. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  31. ^ Tigres, Tres Tristes. "Editorial Menoscuarto | www.menoscuarto.es". www.menoscuarto.es (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  32. ^ Bloomsbury.com. "Satirizing Modernism". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 2017-05-26.

External links[edit]