Milo Burke, a development officer at a third-tier university, has "not been developing": after a run-in with a well-connected undergrad, he finds himself among the burgeoning class of the newly unemployed. Grasping after odd jobs to support his wife and child, Milo is offered one last chance by his former employer: he must reel in a potential donor--a major "ask"--who, mysteriously, has requested Milo's involvement. But it turns out that the ask is Milo's sinister college classmate Purdy Stuart. And the "give" won't come cheap. Probing many themes-- or, perhaps, anxieties--including work, war, sex, class, child rearing, romantic comedies, Benjamin Franklin, cooking shows on death row, and the eroticization of chicken wire, "The Ask "is a burst of genius by a young American master who has already demonstrated that the truly provocative and important fictions are often the funniest ones.
Sam Lipsyte was born in 1968. He is the author of the story collection "Venus Drive" (named one of the top twenty-five books of its year by the Voice Literary Supplement) and the novels "The Subject Steve" and "Home Land," which was a "New York Times" Notable Book and received the first annual Believer Book Award. He is also the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.