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.
The Family Chao has a laser focus: one restaurant, one town, and one crime that will transform the family’s fortunes ... you get the sense that borrowing the bones of a classic [The Brothers Karamazov has freed up the author to focus on making every interior detail as perfect as it can be. One of the many pleasures of The Family Chao is the way the novel dramatises the gap between how a family wants to be seen, and its messier inner realities ... Chang has created a wonderful comedy of American consumption ... Chang’s prose moves with the unfussy ease of a shark through water—for the longest time you are just enjoying your swim, soaking up the story. Only midway through the book does it occur to you that a master hunter is at work: a writer cutting through the darker depths of what it means to be treated as an outsider in America ... Chang’s omniscient narrator tell us, 'there are many ways to greatness. There’s greatness of style, of setting, of occasion, and of company.' The Family Chao has a little of all these ingredients—but even better, it arrives with something to say.