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.