Clifford Garstang

Clifford Garstang (Fiction) | Staunton, VA

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Clifford Garstang is the author of What the Zhang Boys Know, winner of the 2013 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Fiction, and In an Uncharted Country, winner of the Maria Thomas Fiction Award. He is also the editor of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction From a Small Planet. A former international lawyer, he lives in Staunton, Virginia.


What the Zhang Boys Know (Press 53, 2012). Novel in Stories. Fiction.
In an Uncharted Country (Press 53, 2009). Short Stories. Fiction.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

Clifford Garstang presents one of the more memorable 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 New York Times Best Seller The Family Fang

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

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 quiet of absence” in the wake of all manner 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

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, and The Memory Of All That

Nanking Mansion is the Winesburg,Ohio of the 21st century, and What the Zhang Boys Know is Garstang’s powerfully moving take on place, time, love, and what happens when strangers in a strange land pick community over difference. These stories wrap around one another, and the reader, in a big, warm, bracing human hug.
—Patrick Somerville, author of The Cradle and This Bright River

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