What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang


What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang


Winner 2013 Library of Virginia Award for Fiction

Winner 2015 Indiana Emerging Author Award

8.5 x 5.5 paperback, 218 pages

ISBN 978-1-935708-16-2

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Praise for What the Zhang Boys Know

"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 linked by neighborliness in a 'not-quite-gentrified' neighborhood. Garstang's characters strive to transcend 'the deep quite of absence' in the wake of all manners of devastations. They leave their doors unlocked, they console, they make room, they share what they have made of sorrow, 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.

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. The entrances and exits are handled with the deftness of a French comedy, 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.

“Clifford Garstang presents one of the more memorably settings I've seen in any book, Nanking Mansion, a renovated tenement in D.C.'s Chinatown, 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 unified by their collective setting to transform into 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 NYT Best Seller The Family Fang 

“In the tradition of the best volumes of linked stories, from Susan Minot's Monkeys and Rand Cooper's The Last to Go to David Schickler's Kissing in Manhattan, Clifford Garstang's What the Zhang Boys Know traces a graceful arc, as the meanings and moments in the stories accrue. Garstang's inventive and original writing, a beguiling invitation to myriad subplots and destinations, offers what every reader desires: a lucid and satisfying experience of literature."

— Katharine Weber, author of Triangle, True Confections, The Memory of All That

"Garstang's finely painted portrait of displaced people who find support in each other is its own "buttery trumpet" in a cacophonous landscape.".

— Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kansas

A tight, lyrical novel told in 12 stories of disparate neighbors living in uneasy harmony in a gentrified Washington, D.C. condo.

— Shelf Awareness


About the Author

Clifford Garstang is the author of the prize-winning short story collection In an Uncharted Country and What the Zhang Boys Know, winner of the Library of Virginia Award for Fiction. His is also founding editor of Everywhere Stories: SHort Fiction from a Small Planet, an anthology series from Press 53. His work has appeared in numerous literary magazines including Bellevue Literary JournalBlackbird, 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 of Prime Number Magazine. He is also the author of the popular literary blog Perpetual Folly.

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