Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Family Fang” as Want to Read:
The Family Fang
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Family Fang

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  26,452 ratings  ·  3,521 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’ madc
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 2011 by Ecco
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Family Fang, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Judy Lindow This question is similar to the whole premise of the book. I.E. What kinds of lives will Child A and B have with often bizarre and jarring childhoods?…moreThis question is similar to the whole premise of the book. I.E. What kinds of lives will Child A and B have with often bizarre and jarring childhoods? What are the effects of their unconventional, almost anti-social parents, parenting and family - their isolation from mainstream society and increased sibling dependency. I've only read 1/3 of the book but am seeing the children not knowing how to protect themselves, make themselves safe, taking unwarranted risks, not recognizing unacceptable or odd behavior, acting impulsively, and not thinking things through, and not setting boundaries. They're OK with lying. The positive way of seeing this is that they like and are
drawn to the fantastical, like a good story, are creative, may be over achievers of a sort, and are there for each other.(less)
Maryam No, I don't think they translated it in that language. :( …moreNo, I don't think they translated it in that language. :( (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  26,452 ratings  ·  3,521 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Family Fang
switterbug (Betsey)
Sep 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-i-abhor
The more time that passes, the more I dislike the book, and am flummoxed that this insensate drivel was the darling of the publishing industry when it was released. The prose was nothing more than serviceable, and the characters of Caleb and Camille were caricatures. What stands out, and kept me reading (and hoping) till the end, was the bond between Buster and Annie. I kept waiting to be moved or fastened. Instead, I experienced a penetrating boredom, and when the ludicrous, melodramatic denoue ...more
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Nothing to See Here I was anxious to get my hands on more of Wilson's work and this one sounded just strange enough to pique my interest.

Caleb, Camille, Child A (Annie) and Child B (Buster) are a family of performance artists. The Fang's brand of art is to cause as much chaos as they can to all of those that find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time also known as: the Fang's path to artistic creation.

Let's just say that when Annie and Buster become adults they aren't v
"The act is not the art. The reaction is the art"
Caleb Fang

Caleb and Camille Fang are performance artists. Their work consists of basically "pranking" the public, causing disturbances and recording the reactions. For years and years, they've had their children, Annie and Buster (Child A and Child B), to assist in their "creations." But now, the two older Fangs are empty-nesters. Something is off in the creative process, and they are adrift. Their children are also sort of drifting through life,
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a hard review to write. I'm not sure what to think of this book. It was laugh-out-loud, read-parts-to-my-husband funny and kept me up late, so I gave it four stars. It is, as other reviewers have noted, exactly like watching a Wes Anderson movie. It has the same feeling of colorful, bemused detachment.

In fact, I would say that the book is like the Fangs' art - it's creative and interesting, but it's too sly, self-absorbed, and intellectualized to be genuinely moving. It isn't shallow,
Nov 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: blog
Annie and Buster Fang, like so many twenty-somethings, blame their parents for the lack of fulfillment and success they find in their careers and in their personal lives. However, unlike many twenty-somethings, Annie and Buster may have a valid claim for blaming their parents for their seeming lack of autonomy and self-actualization. That's because the Fang children's parents were artists--as in Artists (that's right with a capital A and italics). And not just any kind of artists, but performanc ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“They fucked us up, Buster.” “They didn’t mean to,” he replied. “But they did,” she said.

Annie and Buster – SIDENOTE (I know, I know, you’re probably like dammmmmn bitch - ALREADY?!?!?!?!) because BUSTER . . . .

I’m surprised more than anyone that I’m not giving this 5 Stars automatically.

Anywho , Annie and Buster were raised by performance artists. Back before anyone could be famous via the interwebs, Caleb and Camille Fang ma
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Family Fang is a page turner about a complicated family of artists. Buster and Annie are quirky, creative siblings struggling to come to grips with the legacy of parents who overshadowed them their entire lives, always putting art first. Although dark and sad at times, the novel is written with hope and heart. (It was also cool to see the seeds of Nothing to See Here in Annie's film.) ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
I heard a review about this book - it was a comedy, a fascinating look at family dynamics, a riotous romp about crazy parents and the impact they have on children. Honestly, I just found it really depressing. Two narcissistic adults who care for no one but each other, including their own kids who are just pawns and characters in their "art" pieces. I pushed through to the end because I kept hoping for some type of redemption. I guess I got it in that the siblings pull together and form their own ...more
★★★✰✰ 3 stars

“I understand that art is a necessary component of a civilized society, but you cannot just go around shooting people. That's going to be a problem.”

Having recently read and loved Nothing to See Here I wanted to check out Kevin Wilson’s earlier work. While The Family Fang has the same whimsical tone as his latest novel, its story has a broader scope and feels slightly more impersonal (perhaps this is due to the third person point of view).
Nevertheless the opening chapters of th
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
'The Family Fang', by Kevin Wilson, was a troubling read for me. It is the story of the Fang Family, two parents and two children. Mr and Mrs Fang are performance artists, staging 'shocking' spectacles in public places in the name of 'art'. Their children are both pawns of their art and sometimes willing, often unwilling, participants. The book shifts perspective between the 'growing up' years of Annie and Buster (the kids), and the present of their adulthood. This book seems to be asking the qu ...more
Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Aside from the fact this book reads like a Wes Anderson movie (Royal Tennenbaums, Rushmore), you would be wrong to dismiss it as just a living diarama of a dysfunctional and dramatic family. The writing is personal and bald, embarassing and heartening as any honest family history can be. But the Family Fang isn't an ordinary family. Caleb and Camille stage experiemental art from the uncomfortable chaos they impose on unsuspecting audiences. Their children, Child A and Child B, are raised and tra ...more
Andy Marr
Dec 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Having enjoyed Nothing to See Here, I was eager to give another of Wilson's books a go. But I didn't like this. The story was slow and tedious and, somehow, really unpleasant. I guess Wilson was aiming for a happy ending, but that final chapter, like its predecessors, left me feeling flat and, if I'm honest, a little depressed. ...more
Celeste Ng
I honestly don't know how a book that's so deeply sad can also be so hysterically funny. Not a lot of books make me laugh out loud, but this one did--I couldn't stop reading bits of it to my husband. The Fangs are both absurd and completely believable, which is why this tragicomic novel works: despite all the humor there are also real people here, wrestling with universal issues--what it means to be part of a family, what makes art, and how (and how much) you love others. ...more
Ashley Daviau
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't really know quite what I was expecting when I picked this up, but I definitely wasn't expecting this book to be so weirdly cool! At first I was even taken aback by how strange it was but once I got used to it, I grew to love it!

The story had such a unique premise, I can honestly say that I've never read anything like it! The Fangs are so incredibly weird and quirky, you can't help but be drawn into the story and wonder what kind of incredible chaos that they're going to cause next!

Feb 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
I almost did not finish this book. There is not much I like about it. I can’t believe the author stretched this book out to over 300 pages.

Biggest problem: Although this was a work of fiction Mr. and Mrs. Fang were nothing short of child abusers: forcing their kids from an early age to be part of their so-called “art.” And look how the kids turned out: for the most of the book they were dysfunctional. I have read reviews and the reviewers say that Kevin Wilson is making a point…that there is a d
Don't be misled. This book is touted as a comedy, with the title and cover art echoing that impression, but I just didn't see much humor in it. The main characters, Annie and Buster, are scarred and broken by their childhood, by their parents' manipulation and, well, abuse. I felt like the Fang's "performance art" was a metaphor for other ways parents damage their children.

The "performance art," as other reviewers have commented, is hard to swallow. They create chaos -- most of the flashback se
Aug 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
I'm torn about this book — there's one part of me that loved the quirks and oddities of the Fang family (parents Caleb and Camille, son, Buster, and daughter, Annie, who are performance artists of the "Let's stage a scene in public and call it art" variety). But there's another part of me that wanted to love them more than I did. Love them in a way I could identify with them somehow (say, the way I did with Jonathan Tropper's Foxman family from his "This Is Where I Leave You"). In the end, the o ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Aug 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The act of creation called art includes collaboration and collusion between artist and observer. It may also consists of relationaships between jparticipants who call themselves artists. In this thrilling, original book, the creators are Caleb and Camille, gonzo artists who specialize in scorched earth performance pieces that come to include and feature their children, who we are told had arrived without preamble or fanfare. Everything that happens to this family is done with agenda in hand, unt ...more
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Where do I even begin with this? The book is bizarre, the premise is disturbing, the humor is off-kilter and dark, the morals are completely missing. Paragraph structure is chaotic and confusing with multiple characters quotes in the same paragraph. Language is offensive, dialogue is weird, family dynamics is disturbing, sexual envelope is pushed and yet...

With all the criticisms I might have, I really did enjoy the weirdness of it. I was a little disappointed with the anti-climactic ending but,
Larry H
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Performance Art. Until now, everything I knew about it was from the movie Legal Eagles and the David Sedaris hilarious account of his own days as a performance artist. Thanks to this book, I now consider myself an expert.
Not happy with "dead art" that simply hangs in museums, on walls, or just sits there, Camille and Caleb Fang spend their life "forcing their art onto unsuspecting people; he made them part of the piece, and they didn't even know it . . .But if they didn't know what was going on
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reads
I am overjoyed when a book not only meets my expectations, but exceeds them. After reading this author's short story collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories, I watched and waited for a full novel. He did not let me down.
Darkly comic (and sometimes just dark), the Fangs live at the border between life and art.
"Art, if you love it, was worth any amount of unhappiness and pain. If you had to hurt someone to achieve those ends, so be it. If the outcome was beautiful enough, strange
Joachim Stoop
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Years I've been waiting and actively searching for a novel with the same humor as Steve Toltz' A fraction of the whole. I finally found one! Maybe it isn't that good as my all time funniest book but it has the same wild, creative, eventfull, witty, absurd (but not Vonnegut-absurd) characters, family relations and situations in it.

Just a tad too tedious, but still a lovely summer read.

I know there is a mobie adaptation with Jason Bateman. We'll see...
J. Schlenker
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Unique. It took a bit to get into it, but once I did I couldn't put it down. I had to find out what happened to the Fangs. ...more
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
The kind of book that sits with you overtime only to realize how truly astounding it is. This took me by surprise, and I’m glad it did. I can’t wait to read more of Wilson’s books.

You could blurb this as a spin on parents embarrassing their children in public. Or traumatizing. Maybe both. For art?

Check out just how well the author draws you in through this excerpt:

Visit for more book discussions and reviews.
David Jordan
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to David by: revierws
This intriguing novel tells the story of the daughter and son of a married couple who warped their kids’ personalities by using them as props/henchmen in a career of “performance art” happenings, staging and filming bizarre, uncomfortable public events (pathetic preteens perform a cacophonous musical concert to raise money for their sick dog’s surgery, while incognito parents incite passersby to boo and heckle, etc.). Setbacks propel the children, now thirty-ish and struggling to survive as an a ...more
Jonathan K
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Unfamiliar with Kevin Wilson I noticed this book on the 'Staff Recommendation' rack and am SO glad I checked it out and read it. I laughed, wondered and laughed some more as I read the tale of the two Fang parents who are beyond performance artists in all ways imaginable. The stories of how they roped their two children, A & B, into the stunts they pulled which are being done purely as 'art' are hysterical. Years later the children grow weary of this as they seek to find themselves. This in itse ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After falling in love with Nothing to See Here, I’m excitedly working through Wilson’s backlist. Performance artist parents, Caleb and Camille Fang, finally take a “piece” too far. The progression of their bizarre antics is documented nonlinearly, and ultimately, their children are left wondering wtf is real? Absolutely cringeworthy family dysfunction. Nothing makes me happier than quirk and satire.
Ron Charles
Somewhere between those happy families that Tolstoy felt were all alike and the unhappy families he claimed were unhappy in their own ways lie the quirky families we all love. Whether we grew up in Mayberry R.F.D. or the Bates Motel, most of us were raised on quirky families, from “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” to “The Addams Family,” which lead us in adulthood to the pleasures of “Cold Comfort Farm” and the warm glow of “Little Miss Sunshine.” With their eccentric relatives always up to crazy shenanig ...more
Jim Loter
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
When I was little, my mother would play this game with me in public that she called "Go Away, Little Boy." When we were out together at a grocery store or the mall, she'd contrive to get me separated from her - say, by sending me over to the next aisle for something - then, when I'd return, she'd pretend she didn't know me. "Go away, little boy. Go find your mother." She'd try to walk - sometimes run - away from me.

Now, I was in on the joke, of course, and I was infinitely delighted by this. Bu
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Children's Bible
  • The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries Volume Two: The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club / Strong Poison / The Five Red Herrings  / Have His Carcase
  • Writers & Lovers
  • All Adults Here
  • The Glass Hotel
  • The Vanishing Half
  • Interior Chinatown
  • Leave the World Behind
  • Deacon King Kong
  • Anxious People
  • In the Dream House
  • Weather
  • Dead Astronauts (Borne #2)
  • Such a Fun Age
  • This Is Happiness
  • The Midnight Library
  • Instant Love: Fiction
  • The Captain and the Glory: An Entertainment
See similar books…
Kevin Wilson was born, raised, and still lives in Tennessee. His writing has appeared in Ploughshares, One Story, Greensboro Review, The Oxford American, Carolina Quarterly and elsewhere. His work has twice been included in the New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best anthology (2005, 2006). He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the KHN Center for the Arts. A graduat ...more

Related Articles

November is the honored month of Thanksgiving, when we gather with our loved ones, attend requisite family rituals, and then—with any...
38 likes · 23 comments
“What you'll find, I think, is that the things you most want to avoid are the things that make you feel the greatest when you actually do them.” 33 likes
“Even awful people can be polite for a few minutes,” their father told them. “Any longer than that and they revert to the bastards they really are.” 30 likes
More quotes…