Book Review: What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang & Giveaway (US/Canada)

What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang was a surprise for me – a nice one!  What the Zhang Boys Know has twelve separate chapters with seemingly separate stories yet they all link together in some way to the residents living in the condo complex called  Nanking Mansion.  The Nanking Mansion is located on the edge of Chinatown in Washington, D.C. and it isn’t the greatest neighborhood but these arsty type residents don’t seem to notice it all too much.  This is a story that to me highlights how life goes on through its various ups and downs and as each day passes, another takes its place.

The book starts off with the Zhang family and they were my favorite and I’m quite sure I would have been happy with a whole book just about them.  Feng-qi, a single dad left with two young boys after his American wife dies in a tragic accident, is left reeling.  Eventually his father comes from China to live with them and care for the boys and along the way even his mother-in-law seems to be opening up some even though she strongly opposed her daughter’s marriage to Feng-qi.  Although Feng-qi has met another woman he still can’t forget his perfect wife and his boys even more so as they are convinced she is coming back.

Then there is a host of others living in the building, among them a painter, a sculptor, and a lawyer.  Another story I really liked was one of an older woman whose husband leaves her and she ends up having to sell her belongings because she can’t get a job.  She even turned to her younger sister for help even though she knew it would be thrown back at her.  There is the young Susanna who originally moves in with her boyfriend, becomes pregnant, and then kicks him out because she’s moved on with the painter.  The painter is a tormented soul for sure as he’s haunted by a face in a picture that he’s painted.

All of the characters in this novel are flawed, just as all human beings are.  They aren’t perfect; they are just trying to get through their lives the best they can.  I love how all the stories weaved together in some way as for me that is the one thing that really does make a book of short stories work.  I also liked how the Zhang boys, although young and not always understanding the real issues, could still give you a pretty good update on what was going on with everyone in the building.  It just goes to show how much the young ones really do absorb.  This was a good read for me.  I enjoyed the book and the author’s writing style and I look forward to reading more from him.

What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang is touring with TLC Book Tours so be sure to check out the other tour stops!  You can connect with Clifford on his website and a copy of What the Zhang Boys Know can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada.



I have one copy of What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang to share with my readers.  To enter…

  • For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
  • For 2 entries, follow my blog.  If you do let me know and I’ll pass the extra entry on to you as well.
  • For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway!

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, November 10/12.  Good luck!

Source: Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours and the Publisher. No compensation was received for this review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. Linda B says

    Based on the cover I would have passed this by. But your review has caused me to put this book on the wish list. It sounds wonderful. Thanks for the giveaway.

    And I am a follower, through Google Reader.

  2. says

    This is a book that I am intensely interested in, after reading a few reviews, coupled with yours. I would love the chance to read this one, so please do enter me Dar, and thanks for the incredible review!



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