Tricia Dower's Reviews > What the Zhang Boys Know

What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang
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Oct 28, 12

Read in October, 2012

An intelligent and compelling collection of original stories about characters who live in a condo building called Nanking Mansion and appear in each other’s stories. My favorites are the poignant six in which Feng-qi Zhang, his motherless sons, his father and his girlfriend appear. The collection is book-ended by two of these stories, giving the collection the feel of a novel brought to a satisfying conclusion, in this case a story of love lost, love found and love lost again. The last story, “The Shrine to His Ancestors,” is especially moving. I would have liked the entire book to be about the Zhangs. Other stories I particularly liked were “Hunger,” in which the author deftly shows us through defining details the consequences of a self-indulgent, unaware life, “The Nations of Witness,” which I enjoyed both for its voice and scope, and “Artoyen’s Razor,” for the voice of Sam Artoyen and the plot twist. Garstang writes convincingly in different voices, both male and female, creating complete and nuanced lives for his characters, even those in the spotlight for a brief time.
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