Clifford Garstang, author of What the Zhang Boys Know, on tour October 2012

Posted By on July 27, 2012

About What the Zhang Boys Know

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Press 53 (October 1, 2012)

Set in a condominium building on the edge of Chinatown in Washington, D.C., these stories present the practical and emotional struggles of Zhang Feng-qi, originally from Shanghai, to find a new mother for his sons following the death of his American wife. Along the way, the stories spotlight Zhang’s neighbors as they seek to fill gaps in their own lives: the young bookseller diagnosed with a life-threatening illness; the young lawyer trying to cope with a failed marriage; the obsessive painter haunted by the image of a face; the middle-aged woman forced to sell her possessions in order to survive; the sculptor, overwhelmed by longing for the son he didn’t know he had. And then there are the Zhang boys, who firmly believe that their mother is coming back. What is it that they know?

What the Zhang Boys Know has a dozen chapters, each one a vivid short story in itself. Garstang makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. The lives of the inhabitants of a condominium in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown are told separately and as part of a web of entanglements . . . but the empathy of the author brings all the characters achingly alive. What the Zhang Boys Know is a wonderful and haunting book. — John Casey, author of Compass Rose and Spartina, winner of the National Book Award 

A widower, a sculptor, a minor poet, an interior designer, and a painter are just a few of Clifford Garstang’s affecting characters, residents of Nanking Mansion, the setting for these deeply satisfying, life-affirming stories. Garstang’s characters strive to transcend “the deep quiet of absence” in the wake of all manner of devastations, so proving, as do these stories, the solace to be found in art. — Christine Schutt, author of National Book Award-finalist Florida, and Pulitzer Prize-finalist All Souls 

Clifford Garstang presents one of the more memorable settings I’ve seen in any book, a renovated tenement filled with characters whose stories are more fantastic than they first appear. In prose that is measured and confident, he carefully works to show us how these characters’ grief and loneliness becomes something utterly beautiful and unforgettable. What a world Garstang has built for us, and how grateful I was to discover it. — Kevin Wilson, author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth and New York Times Bestseller The Family Fang

To learn more about What the Zhang Boys Know, visit the publisher’s website at HERE.

About Clifford Garstang

Clifford Garstang is the author of What the Zhang Boys Know (Press 53, 2012) and the prize-winning linked story collection In an Uncharted Country (Press 53, 2009). His work has appeared in numerous literary magazines including Bellevue Literary Review, Blackbird, Cream City Review, Shenandoah, Tampa Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review, and has received Distinguished Mention in the Best American Series. He has received fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He holds an MFA in Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte and is the co-founder and editor of Prime Number Magazine. He is also the author of the popular literary blog Perpetual Folly.

After receiving a BA in Philosophy from Northwestern University, Garstang served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Korea, where he taught English at Jonbuk University. He then earned an MA in English and a JD, magna cum laude, both from Indiana University, and practiced international law in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Singapore with one of the largest law firms in the United States. Subsequently, he earned a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and worked for Harvard Law School as a legal reform consultant in Almaty, Kazakhstan. From 1996 to 2001, he was Senior Counsel for East Asia at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., where his work focused on China, Vietnam, Korea, and Indonesia.

Garstang teaches creative writing at and elsewhere. He currently lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

For more information on Cliff and his work, visit his website,

Clifford Garstang’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, October 1st:  Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, October 2nd:  Write Now, Right Now

Wednesday, October 3rd:  Under My Apple Tree

Thursday, October 4th:  WV Stitcher

Monday, October 8th:  Book Dilettante

Tuesday, October 9th:  Write Now, Right Now  author interview

Wednesday, October 10th:  BookNAround

Thursday, October 11th:  Booklover Book Reviews

Monday, October 15th:  Bookish Habits

Wednesday, October 17th:  Cold Read Book Blog

Tuesday, October 23rd:  Reading on a Rainy Day

Wednesday, October 24th:  Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, October 29th:  Entomology of a Bookworm

Tuesday, October 30th:  5 Minutes for Books

Thursday, November 1st:  Camilla Stein Review

Monday, November 5th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, November 7th:  I’m Booking It

Thursday, November 8th:  My Bookshelf

Friday, November 9th:  Luxury Reading

Monday, November 12th:  Broken Teepee


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