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Chang and Eng

A book by Darin Strauss.

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A beautiful, sad and heart-felt read

  • Jun 26, 2010
Change & Eng is a fictional story based on the life of the greatest show on earth in the 1800's, the co-joined Siamese Twins. Woven from historical fact, Strauss uses great imagination to fill in the specifics of their lives. The story follows their discovery where they were moved from a squalid houseboat on the McKong River into the palace as entertainment for the King of Siam. Later they toured the world as the greatest freak show on earth and even went on to marry two sisters and birth several children between them.

The author answers your questions before you think to ask it, like how does a co-joined twin have sex with his wife and what happens when one brother drinks and the other doesn't when they share a stomach? I found the book fascinating and would recommend it to anyone who ever wondered what it'd feel like to be a twin.

I am an identical twin and found the author's description of the twin-bond very accurate. So much so, I dare say more accurate than any other I have ever read. I'm thinking next time I'm grilled about what it feels like to be a twin, to just hand them my copy of Chang & Eng.

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More Chang and Eng: A Novel reviews
review by . June 03, 2010
This book was very interesting, though at times quite depressing. During the period preceding the civil war, a pair of conjoined twins from Siam are brought to the US to perform by an explotative American. They eventually managed to escape him, and achieve some level of fame and fortune around the world. The pair eventually come to a small town in North Carolina, where they manage to marry a pair of sisters who were pariahs of sorts because of an affair with a black man.       …
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
Fascinating story of the first Siamese twins to live and make a living by being conjoined.
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About this book


Narrated by Eng, one of a pair of conjoined twins,Chang and Engis a daring novel that constantly threatens to lose its balance. It's also one that would be hard to believe were it not rigorously grounded in historical fact. Like the (literally) inseparable protagonists of Darin Strauss's debut, Chang and Eng Bunker were born in the early 1800s in a rainy village on the shores of the Mekong Delta. Achieving instant fame as the "Siamese double boy," they toured freak shows throughout China, Europe, and North America. Eventually they settled in North Carolina (of all places), married a pair of sisters, and fathered 21 children between them.

This fictionalized version of their story is narrated by the stronger, more circumspect twin, Eng, who must continually urge Chang to restrain his tears, his burning sexual desires, and his fear of the King of Siam (who has promised to "kill the double-child, the bad omen"). From the beginning, Strauss masterfully delineates the brothers' differences. Yet it's the porous nature of their relationship that will fascinate readers even more. The twins, after all, must always sleep face to face, connected by a fleshy band and the knowledge of their shared monstrosity. The fact that they are neither "he" nor "we" allows the author myriad opportunities for wordplay and psychological riddles. Does Chang love his brother, or does he love himself? When he hates his brother, is it only a piece of himself he is ...

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ISBN-10: 0452281091
ISBN-13: 978-0452281097
Author: Darin Strauss
Genre: History
Publisher: Plume
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