Thursday, October 4, 2012

What The Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang ~ TLC Blog Tour with review

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Press 53 (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935708619
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935708612

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?

My take on this book: 
I love reading short stories, especially when I feel like I know the characters when I am finished, another thing I like is that I can read one, and then go back later and pick up the book and read another, only thing is with "What The Zhang Boys Know" once I started reading the book I found myself thinking just one more story, and before I knew it I had read the entire book!

Zhang Feng-qi's life is in a bit of turmoil after his wife Maddie is killed in an automobile accident. He needs to figure out how to take care of his two young sons Wesley and Simon while he works. Unable to secure a reliable babysitter, as much as he hates to he reaches out to Maddie's mother for help, and her answer is to pack up the boys and send them to her in New York. Not wanting to do that Feng-qi decides to head home to Shanghai and bring his father to the states to live with him and his boys. When a bit of order is restored Feng-qi decides to try dating again. 

I really enjoyed getting to know the Zhang family, but honestly each of the twelve short stories are about much more than just the Zhang's. They revolve around many of the neighbors that live in the Nanking Mansion, the building the Zhang family lives in. Rich in detail, the author brings the characters to life, weaving the continuing story of the Zhang family together with the residents. While I enjoyed meeting the varied characters in the story, overall for me I wanted to know what would happen with the Zhang family. Would Feng-qi find someone and how would his sons accept her if he did. Overall, I found this an enjoyable read that left me thinking about the characters long after I finished the final pages. 

About Clifford Garstang

Clifford Garstang is the author ofWhat 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, ShenandoahTampa Review, andVirginia 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 blogPerpetual 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,

1 comment:

  1. This is the kind of book that keeps me up way to late a night because I have to read just ONE MORE page. I love those kinds of books!

    I'm glad you enjoyed this one. Thanks for being on the tour.


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