Lan Samantha ChangAug 25, 2022
The Family Chao
W. W. Norton 2022
The Fine Chao, a Chinese restaurant in the town of Haven, is known for its food and its boisterous owner, Big Leo Chao. Leo is loud, assertive and aggressive, sexually explicit in a way unmatched in his three sons, Dagou, Ming and James, who all take after–and despise–their father in differing ways.
The Chao family are the protagonists of Lan Samantha Chang’s newest novel, appropriately titled The Family Chao (W. W. Norton & Company, 2022). What starts as a family drama turns into a crime novel, with references to the struggles and challenges faced by the Chinese-American community–and with echoes to other classic works of literature.
In this interview, Samantha and I talk about The Family Chao, its focus on the Chinese-American population, and how it uses classic ideas to explore that community’s place in the United States.
Lan Samantha Chang is the author of a collection of short fiction, Hunger, and two novels, Inheritance, and All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost. Her work has been translated into nine languages and has been chosen twice for The Best American Short Stories. She has received creative writing fellowships from Stanford University, Princeton University, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the Director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at@nickrigordon.