Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book Review: "The Family Fang" by Kevin Wilson

This is a brilliant, quirky, fantastic book.

Caleb and Camille Fang are performance artists. To them, there is nothing greater than the process of creating something that provokes reaction in others, no matter what that reaction is. They have raised their children, Annie and Buster (whom they refer to as Child A and Child B), to be part of their performances, either willingly or unwillingly. When Annie and Buster grow into adulthood, both flee as far from their parents as possible; Annie becomes an Oscar-nominated actress with an increasingly unstable personality, and Buster is a novelist with diminishing promise, who finds work as a freelance writer for men's magazines.

When crises force both Buster and Annie to return home to their parents, they quickly expect to be drawn back into the world of performance. Yet shortly after their return, their parents disappear without a trace, and they are torn between believing they are gone for good or whether this disappearance is their ultimate performance. The Family Fang is a story about the profound effects your childhood has on your later life, but how you cannot let it define your future.

I found myself quickly drawn into the Fangs' world. The book juxtaposes present time with accounts of some of their memorable performances through the years, which truly gives you an insight into what drove Caleb and Camille, and how this drive affected Annie and Buster. The book is at times funny, sad, irritating and uplifting, and I was often amazed at how Kevin Wilson continued weaving this story. The Fangs and their lives are undoubtedly quirky, but you will absolutely enjoy getting immersed in their story. Don't miss this one.


  1. I was drawn to the idea of a story involving a family social experiment operating in the name of art, mainly because I find performance art fasinating and controversial, and to ad one's family into the mix! (I'm sucker for black comedy). But I found the book a little lacking. The children's characters were well developed and I did enjoy the parents characters as well (their quirks), but I found the parents to be a little 2D.

  2. "The Family Fang" is brilliantly written--it is, in fact, one of the most expertly constructed novels I've read in years. It's an easy enough read to be accurately described as a beach book, and it's full of enough pathos and artistry to find its way into a college literature classroom one day.
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