The Family Chao

A Novel

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Pub Date 01 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 31 Jan 2022

Talking about this book? Use #TheFamilyChao #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


Description

An acclaimed storyteller returns with “a gorgeous and gripping literary mystery” that explores “family, betrayal, passion, race, culture and the American Dream” (Jean Kwok).

The residents of Haven, Wisconsin, have dined on the Fine Chao Restaurant’s delicious Americanized Chinese food for thirty-five years, happy to ignore any unsavory whispers about the family owners. But when brash, charismatic, and tyrannical patriarch Leo Chao is found dead—presumed murdered—his sons discover that they’ve drawn the exacting gaze of the entire town.

The ensuing trial brings to light potential motives for all three brothers: Dagou, the restaurant’s reckless head chef; Ming, financially successful but personally tortured; and the youngest, gentle but lost college student James.

Brimming with heartbreak, comedy, and suspense, The Family Chao offers a kaleidoscopic, highly entertaining portrait of a Chinese American family grappling with the dark undercurrents of a seemingly pleasant small town.

About the Author: Lan Samantha Chang is the author of a collection of short fiction, Hunger, and two novels, Inheritance and All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost. The director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she lives in Iowa City.

An acclaimed storyteller returns with “a gorgeous and gripping literary mystery” that explores “family, betrayal, passion, race, culture and the American Dream” (Jean Kwok).

The residents of Haven...


A Note From the Publisher

LibraryReads votes due by 1/1/22.

LibraryReads votes due by 1/1/22.


Advance Praise

"The Brothers Karamazov set in a Chinese restaurant in Midwest... Chang is a virtuoso with situations and dialogues, and has a delicious sense of humor and a sharp eye for [absurdity]... One of the finest and most ambitious novels about America I've read in recent years." -Yiyun Li


“At once a brilliant reimagining of Dostoevsky and a wholly original and gripping story about the passions, rivalries, and searing pressures that roil a singular immigrant family.”—Jess Walter, author of The Cold Millions


"The Brothers Karamazov set in a Chinese restaurant in Midwest... Chang is a virtuoso with situations and dialogues, and has a delicious sense of humor and a sharp eye for [absurdity]... One of the...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9780393868074
PRICE $28.00 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Send To Kindle (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 4 members


Featured Reviews

I knew I wanted to read Lan Samantha Chang's latest book after hearing her speak at a Booklist webinar. I was intrigued by her comment about humor and suffering existing together but rarely shown in literary fiction. Writing The Family Chao was a way for her to communicate what her childhood experience was like. She grew up in an immigrant household in the Midwest where they were poor but ambitious. Her family was loud, and laughed and yelled at each other, yet had so much warmth and a sense that they were in it together. Chang discovered that Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov was a great outline for telling the story she wanted to tell. In the first part of The Family Chao, we meet the three Chinese American brothers who have each inherited some characteristics of their father, Leo. Dagou is handsome, loud, full of passion and desire. He has been living at home in Haven, Wisconsin for the past six years and helping his father with the family restaurant. Ming is the intellectual who has become successful to beat everyone who had bullied him during his childhood. He has detached from his family and lives in Manhattan. James, the good son, is an unambitious pre-med student who wants love more than anything else. Their mother, Winnie, has left their father and lives in the Buddhist Spiritual House. She has called her sons home shortly before Christmas for a luncheon at the temple where the spiritual leader will foretell their futures. I found the first part of the book leisurely paced and character focused. The humor wasn't what I expected. Leo conveys physical humor through his obnoxious and rude behavior; he mocks everyone and everything. There is irony in Dagou's frantic spending to make the Christmas dinner an event of greatness. Ming's suffering prevents him from seeing what is right in front of him. James unknowingly does things that have major repercussions. There are a lot of references to dogs. The language Leo and Dagou used when talking about the female characters was crude and very sexual. I started enjoying the story much more during the second part of the book - I couldn't put it down. I loved the intricate story full of foreshadowing details. I loved how you learn what really happened. I keep thinking about these characters days after finishing the book. I'd like to read another book where the women are the protagonists; Katherine was my favorite. I loved the intimate picture of the family's life and how the three brothers understand so much more by the end of the book. Highly recommend, especially for readers who like themes of family gatherings or immigrant experiences. Thank you to NetGalley and Norton for the ARC!

Was this review helpful?

This was an absolutely fantastic book. This is a truly Shakespearean family drama, and the Dostoyevsky influence is clearly there, but it's fresh and original all the same. I cannot wait for this to come out and win all kinds of awards, and the inevitable movie that will be made of it. It was a bit slow or meditative in the first half, but all of the set-up is necessary for the compelling dominoes that occur in the second. I'd recommend this to anyone.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: