Synopses & Reviews
Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art.
Their children called it mischief.
Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang dedicated themselves to making great art. But when an artist's work lies in subverting normality, it can be difficult to raise well-adjusted children. Just ask Buster and Annie Fang. For as long as they can remember, they starred (unwillingly) in their parents' madcap pieces. But now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents' strange world.
When the lives they've built come crashing down, brother and sister have nowhere to go but home, where they discover that Caleb and Camille are planning one last performance — their magnum opus — whether the kids agree to participate or not. Soon, ambition breeds conflict, bringing the Fangs to face the difficult decision about what's ultimately more important: their family or their art.
Filled with Kevin Wilson's endless creativity, vibrant prose, sharp humor, and keen sense of the complex performances that unfold in the relationships of people who love one another, The Family Fang is a masterfully executed tale that is as bizarre as it is touching.
"Wilson's bizarre, mirthful debut novel (after his collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth) traces the genesis of the Fang family, art world darlings who make 'strange and memorable things.' That is, they instigate and record public chaos. In one piece, 'The Portrait of a Lady, 1988,' fragile nine-year-old Buster Fang dons a wig and sequined gown to undermine the Little Miss Crimson Clover beauty pageant, though he secretly desires the crown himself. In 'A Modest Proposal, July 1988,' Buster and his older sister, Annie, watch their father, Caleb, propose to mother, Camille, over an airliner's intercom and get turned down (' plane crash would have been welcomed to avoid the embarrassment of what had happened'). Over the years, more projects consume Child A and Child B what art lovers (and their parents) call the children but it is not until the parents disappear from an interstate rest stop that the lines separating art and life dissolve. Though leavened with humor, the closing chapters still face hard truths about family relationships, which often leave us, like the grown-up Buster and Annie, wondering if we are constructing our own lives, or merely taking part in others'. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"The Family Fang is a comedy, a tragedy, and a tour-de-force examination of what it means to make art and survive your family. Like everything else Kevin Wilson does, I have never seen anything like it before. The best single word description would be brilliant." Ann Patchett, bestselling author of Bel Canto and State of Wonder
"Each page feels like unearthing a discovery. This is the kind of novel you fall in love with: tender-hearted, wonder-filled, a world all its own.... Wilson is such [a] talent, so rare and beautiful and big." Josh Weil, author of The New Valley
"[Kevin Wilson] tells his madcap story with straight-faced aplomb, highlighting the tricky intersection of family life and artistic endeavor. All fiction readers will enjoy this comic/tragic look at domesticity." Library Journal
"Wilson commands the cavalry riding around the vastly important Army of the Loopy... rides slashing from the Implausible to the Plausible, and from there quickly to the Necessary and on to the True. The Family Fang will appear Coenized out of Hollywood but you should catch them here first." Padgett Powell, author of The Interrogative Mood
"Don't be surprised if this becomes one of the most discussed novels of the year." Booklist
"As he did in Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, Kevin Wilson asks big questions with subtle humor and deep tenderness." NPR.org
"Wild.... Kudos for wit and quirky imagination." Christian Science Monitor
"[A] bizarre, mirthful debut novel...leavened with humor." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A highly engaging and imaginative first novel...Wilson has a gift for characterization and dialogue." Art in America
"The subtlety of the comedy is flawless, channeling the filmmaking of Wes Anderson or Rian Johnson. A fantastic first novel that asks if the kids are alright, finding answers in the most unexpected places." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"It's The Royal Tenenbaums meets Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I'd call The Family Fang a guilty pleasure, but it's too damn smart. Here, finally, is a much needed reminder that astute fiction can still be a total blast." Hannah Pittard, author of The Fates Will Find Their Way
Now a major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman and Christopher Walken.
The Family Fang is a comedy, a tragedy, and a tour-de-force examination of what it means to make art and survive your family .The best single word description would be brilliant.
Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto
It s The Royal Tenenbaums meets Who s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I d call The Family Fang a guilty pleasure, but it s too damn smart .A total blast.
Hannah Pittard, author of The Fates Will Find Their Way
Owen King (We re All in This Together) calls author Kevin Wilson, the unholy child of George Saunders and Carson McCullers. With his novel, The Family Fang, the Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth comes through in a BIG way, with a funny, poignant, laugh-and-cry-out-loud (sometimes at the same time) novel about the art of surviving a masterpiece of dysfunction. Meet The Family Fang, an unforgettable collection of demanding, brilliant, and absolutely endearing oddballs whose lives are risky and mischievous performance art. If the writing of Gary Shteyngart, Miranda July, Scarlett Thomas, and Charles Yu excites you, you ll certainly want to invite this Family into your home.
About the Author
Kevin Wilson is the author of the story collection Tunneling to the Center of the Earth (Ecco/HarperPerennial, 2009), which received an Alex Award from the American Library Association and the Shirley Jackson Award. His fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, One Story, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere, and has appeared in four volumes of the New Stories from the South: The Years Best anthology. He has received fellowships from the Mac-Dowell Colony, Yaddo, and the KHN Center for the Arts. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, with his wife, the poet Leigh Anne Couch, and his son, Griff, where he teaches fiction at the University of the South and helps run the Sewanee Writers' Conference.