Chang and Eng, by Darin Strauss (New York: Dutton, 2000)
"In this stunning debut novel, Darin Strauss combines fiction with astonishing facts to tell the story of history's most famous twins. Born in Siam in 1811 -- on a squalid houseboat in 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."
"'Chang-Eng,' the children chanted. 'Mutant, mutant.'"
This one was an excellent read -- novel setting (pardon the pun) with characters familiar yet new. Wish we'd heard from the perspective of both twins and not just from Eng, but still really enjoyed the book.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.