Chang and Eng by Darin Strauss
A Novel

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Synopsis

In this stunning novel, Darin Strauss combines fiction with astonishing fact to tell the story of history’s most famous twins. Born in Siam in 1811—on a squalid houseboat on the Mekong River—Chang and Eng Bunker were international celebrities before the age of twenty. Touring the world’s stages as a circus act, they settled in the American South just prior to the Civil War. They eventually married two sisters from North Carolina, fathering twenty-one children between them, and lived for more than six decades never more than seven inches apart, attached at the chest by a small band of skin and cartilage. Woven from the fabric of fact, myth, and imagination, Strauss’s narrative gives poignant, articulate voice to these legendary brothers, and humanizes the freakish legend that grew up around them. Sweeping from the Far East and the court of the King of Siam to the shared intimacy of their lives in America, Chang and Eng rescues one of the nineteenth century’s most fabled human oddities from the sideshow of history, drawing from their extraordinary lives a novel of exceptional power and beauty.


 

About Darin Strauss

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Darin Strauss is the bestselling author of three previous books. The recipient of a Guggenheim in fiction writing and numerous other awards, Strauss has seen his work translated into fourteen languages and published in more than twenty countries. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Writing at New York University, and he lives with his wife and children in Brooklyn.
 
Published May 1, 2001 by Plume. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Chang and Eng

Kirkus Reviews

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and that of their adult life in antebellum North Carolina, where they marry the aforementioned (Yates) sisters, prosper as hog farmers and slave owners, and eventually `separate` emotionally, as the ingenuous Chang sinks into alcoholism and Eng must wrestle with both his brother's degradation and...

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Publishers Weekly

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In his stunning debut, Strauss fictionalizes the lives of famous conjoined brothers Chang and Eng Bunker, whose physical oddity prompted the term Siamese twins. With compelling characterizations and p

May 29 2000 | Read Full Review of Chang and Eng: A Novel

BC Books

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Darin Strauss, the author of Chang and Eng, hopes that his compelling and richly atmospheric book is "ruled a novel and not a history.” The apparent history, however, is remarkable enough.

Feb 18 2006 | Read Full Review of Chang and Eng: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

From the few known facts of their life — they were born by the Mekong River in 1811, came to the West at a young age, married sisters from North Carolina, and fathered 21 children — Strauss has fashioned a minutely imagined story of their lives as narrated by Eng, the less verbal and less sh...

Jun 23 2000 | Read Full Review of Chang and Eng: A Novel

Teen Reads

The Book Report NetworkSign up for our newsletters!Siamese twins Chang and Eng are like yin and yang.

May 01 2001 | Read Full Review of Chang and Eng: A Novel

Historical Novel Society

In this enthralling first novel, Darin Strauss has combined meticulous historical research with imaginative storytelling to create a richly detailed, multi-layered account of Chang and Eng, the original Siamese twins.

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http://www.citypaper.com

A few pages earlier, Eng is in full-scale melodramatic mode as he explains that he cannot abide by his brother's drinking after the two nearly wreck their horse and buggy (and nearly kill Eng's daughter) while driving drunk: "My head throbbed, and my twin's retching affected my body, disconcertin...

Jul 05 2000 | Read Full Review of Chang and Eng: A Novel

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