The Family Chao by Lan Samantha Chang

Published: 2022 WW Norton Pushkin Press Family saga

Leo Chao is the patriarch of a Chinese immigrant family in Wisconsin. The three sons are Dagou, chef; Ming, successful banker; and James, a college student. When Leo is found dead, probably murdered, suspicion falls on his sons. During the trial, the family’s background is revealed, along with a secret kept by the family for years.

Though slow in parts, the Chao family and the dynamics among them take centre stage in this story which is also an absorbing murder mystery. NPR agrees:”The Family Chao is a riveting character-driven novel that delves beautifully into human psychology.”, and Kirkus comments on the main major theme of the Chinese immigrant experience: “A disruptive, sardonic take on the assimilation story.

“No one could have believed that such good food was cooked by a bad person.”


“You could say the community ate its way through the Chao family’s distress. Not caring whether Big Chao was an honest man. Everyone took in the food on one side of their mouths, and from the other side they extolled the parents for their son’s accomplishments.”

“This story is blowing up because of the racism of the white American community. Look to your own families, people, and don’t throw stones.”

Author: Lan Samantha Chang

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