Summary and book reviews of The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

The Family Fang

A Novel

By Kevin Wilson

The Family Fang
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Aug 2011,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2012,
    336 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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.

prologue

crime and punishment, 1985
artists: caleb and camille fang


Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art. Their children called it mischief. "You make a mess and then you walk away from it," their daughter, Annie, told them. "It's a lot more complicated than that, honey," Mrs. Fang said as she handed detailed breakdowns of the event to each member of the family. "But there's a simplicity in what we do as well," Mr. Fang said. "Yes, there is that, too," his wife replied. Annie and her younger brother, Buster, said nothing. They were driving to Huntsville, two hours away, because they did not want to be recognized. Anonymity was a key element of the performances; it allowed them to set up the scenes without interruption from people who would be expecting mayhem.

As he sped down the highway, eager for expression, Mr. Fang stared at his son, six years old, in the rearview mirror. "Son," he said. "You want to go over your duties for today? Make sure we have everything figured out?" ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse

The premise of this book is so perfect I can't believe it hasn't been done before. Kevin Wilson takes performance art, which is meant to disrupt the everyday, and applies it to that most hidebound of institutions, the American middle-class family. The possibilities are so deliciously ripe.   (Reviewed by Amy Reading).

Full Review Members Only (1292 words).

Media Reviews
Library Journal

[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.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. 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.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Though leavened with humor, the closing chapters still face hard truths about family relationships.

Author Blurb Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto
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.

Author Blurb Hannah Pittard, author of The Fates Will Find Their Way
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.

Reader Reviews
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

The Controversy Over Children in Theater and Art

In his novel, The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson seems to have hit upon an unexplored corner of the art world. There aren't many contemporary performance art pieces that involve children. One exception, by the Toronto-based artists' workshop Mammalian Diving Reflex, is Haircuts by Children, in which 10- and 11-year-olds are given a few days' training in cutting hair and then fanned out to salons to give free cuts to anyone adventurous enough to let them. The show, which has traveled to ten cities around the world, has gathered positive reviews from critics and salon customers alike.

But throughout the ages, the use of children in art has been controversial, though the sensitive points of why have shifted over time.

From Shakespeare to ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Family Fang, try these:

  • Bellweather Rhapsody jacket

    Bellweather Rhapsody

    by Kate Racculia

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A high school music festival goes awry when a young prodigy disappears from a hotel room that was the site of a famous murder/suicide fifteen years earlier.

  • Canada jacket

    Canada

    by Richard Ford

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A true masterwork of haunting and spectacular vision from one of our greatest writers, Canada is a profound novel of boundaries traversed, innocence lost and reconciled, and the mysterious and consoling bonds of family.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  129Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.