Lan Samantha Chang (Hunger, All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost) triumphantly returns with a “gorgeous and gripping literary mystery” and one of the most anticipated novels in 2022. In The Family Chao, 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. Ghanaian American novelist Yaa Gyasi, award-winning author of Homegoing, joined Lan Samantha Chang for a conversation on Chang’s kaleidoscopic, highly entertaining portrait of a Chinese American family grappling with the dark undercurrents of a seemingly pleasant small town.
The Family Chao
By Lan Samantha Chang
Published by W. W. Norton
The residents of Haven, Wisconsin, have dined on the Fine Chao restaurant’s delicious Americanized Chinese food for thirty-five years, content to ignore any unsavory whispers about the family owners. Whether or not Big Leo Chao is honest, or his wife, Winnie, is happy, their food tastes good and their three sons earned scholarships to respectable colleges. But when the brothers reunite in Haven, the Chao family’s secrets and simmering resentments erupt at last.
Before long, brash, charismatic, and tyrannical patriarch Leo is found dead—presumed murdered—and 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.
Lan Samantha Chang
Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. Her debut novel, Homegoing, won her the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for best first book, the PEN/Hemingway Award for a first book of fiction, the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35” honors for 2016, and the American Book Award. Her follow-up novel, Transcendent Kingdom, was an instant New York Times bestseller. She lives in Brooklyn.
Photo Credit: Peter Hurley