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Lan Samantha Chang Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Inheritance (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Family Chao (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Best American Short Stories 1994(1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sisters(2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Freeman's Power(2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Lan Samantha Chang is a literary fiction author that is best known for the novel “The Family Chao.”

The author was born in Appleton, Wisconsin and got her East Asian Studies bachelor’s degree from Yale. She would then go on to work in New York City in the publishing industry and then graduated from Harvard University with an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government.

As a person that always wanted to become an author, she won a Fellowship at Stanford to study fiction and also graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has also won fellowships from MacDowell, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the American Library in Paris.

She is currently the University of Iowa’s Elizabeth M. Stanley Professor and the first Asian American and first woman to be a director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Chang made her debut when she published “Hunger,” a novella and short stories work in 1998. The stories in the work which are set in China and the United States explore loss, family and home.

Samantha Chang was born to Chinese Immigrants that moved to the United States in 1949 after the communist takeover of China. Her parents settled in Appleton, a small town in the Midwest, where she spent much of her childhood.

Since her parents moved so much when she was growing up, she has tended to replicate their experiences since her youth.

Her novels such as the 2004 published “Inheritance” and the 1998 published novella “Hunger” show a desire to not only replicate and learn about her cultural history and family, but also discover how family and culture relate to identity.

In the city of Appleton, Wisconsin, Chang’s family was the first to integrate into what was a largely homogenous white neighborhood. As such, her first impressions of her world during this time were of a foreign culture very different to what she had with her mother and father.

Many were the times that she felt as if she was invisible in her community, given how different she was from everyone. In what is her most popular work so far in “The Family Chao,” she attempts to construct this sense of visibility and invisibility.

Lan Samantha Chang was born and came to age between 1949 and 1980. It was a time when she was learning about the world around her and learned that her parents could not go back to their homeland to see their families and friends.

As such, she was the daughter of exiles from their country that were in so much pain and frustration at not being able to go back to what they called home. There was something like a hole in the house in that there were a lot of things that just were not discussed.

Growing up in the small town of Appleton, Wisconsin, which was very homogenous only made her life even more difficult. Feeling like fish out of the water most of the time, she struggled to fit it and over the years developed a very strong sense of identity. It was from these experiences that she now writes her novels.

“Inheritance” by Lan Samantha Chang introduces Yinan and Junan, whose mother takes her own life. She had gone into depression after it was rumored that her husband could take a second wife given that she had not yet given him a son.

The death of their mother brings the two girls very close together despite the fact that they could not be any more different. Junan is a cool and beautiful woman who gets married to Li Ang, and is surprised to fall in love with the man as the marriage was arranged.

When Japan invades China in the 1930s, Li Ang is sent to a far away province and Junan cannot go with him since she is pregnant. She sends Yinan, the plain but very poetic sister to take care of him, only for her to betray her trust, tearing the family apart.

In the meantime, China has been experiencing some tough times as the Communists and Nationalists fight over it. Li Ang and his brother are on opposite sides of the war to Li Bing, his communist brother. Junan and her kids get away from it all by moving to the US.

It is a story of four generations told by Hong who is Junan’s eldest daughter assisted by Hu Mudan, the resilient old servant who knows all about her culture and family.

Lan Samantha Chang’s novel “All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost” is the story of Roman, a student attending a famous midwestern MFA writing program.

She is studying under Miranda Sturgis, a prominent poet but he does not pay attention in class and only turns in his assignment before the last meeting. He is very critical of the teacher given how detached she seems to be and the cutting remats she often makes on the work of his fellow students.

Still, he goes to see her announced one night and she is surprisingly warm. He is disappointed to discover that she had helped him win a tenure track teaching job as he believed he had done it on his own merit.

Soon after he gets married and starts a family as he becomes a teacher and writer hoping to publish something so successful that it would banish his old insecurities. He also hopes it will thrust him back into the limelight he once enjoyed.

It is a work that explores the life of a man whose arrogance and insecurities resulted in a life he hates. It makes use of the perspective of a fellow MFA graduate who has been his friend for the longest time and as such can see his blind spots where he cannot.

“The Family Chao” by Lan Samantha Chang is set in Haven, Wisconsin, where the Fine Chao restaurant has been providing delicious Chinese food to residents for more than three decades.

The residents have always ignored unsavory whispers about Winnie and her husband Leo Chao, as they make some of the best Americanized Chinese food. Their three sons come back from college and unite in Haven, only for simmering resentments and family secrets to erupt.

It is not long before the tyrannical, charismatic and brash patriarch Leo is found dead and everybody believes the sons may have had something to do with it. The trial soon exposes potential motives that each of the three could have had for killing their father.

The reckless head chef at the restaurant is Dagou, Ming is a personally tortured but financially successful man while James the youngest is a lost and gentle college student.

With the spotlight focusing on the brothers, they need to come to terms with the survival of the business and the family legacy.

It provides a highly entertaining kaleidoscope of a family grappling with some very dark undercurrents previously hidden under the tranquil face of the town and a successful business.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Lan Samantha Chang

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