Longtime faculty member, Sam Chang’s newest novel, The Family Chao is a captivating, witty novel of three brothers, a festering family drama, and the disquieting reality of the American dream.
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 find 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. As the spotlight on the brothers tightens—and the family dog meets an unexpected fate—Dagou, Ming, and James must reckon with the legacy of their father’s outsized appetites and their own future survival.
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.
“The Family Chao is a riveting character-driven novel that delves beautifully into human psychology; Dostoevsky himself would surely approve.” – NPR
“Her new novel is a genre bender: a murder story whose prose sings and snickers and soars as engagingly as Chang’s literary fiction.” – Washington Post