Just a few weeks after winning a statewide literary award for fiction writing, Clifford Garstang is teaching Randolph College students about the craft of writing.
Garstang is Randolph’s writer-in-residence this fall. In addition to teaching a class, he will give a public reading from his novel What the Zhang Boys Know at 8:15 p.m.Wednesday, November 13, in the Alice Ashley Jack Room in Smith Memorial Hall.
What the Zhang Boys Know tells the stories of people who live in the same condominium complex in Washington, D.C., but focuses on a Chinese father and his sons. The book recently won the Library of Virginia 2013 Literary Award For Fiction.
Garstang practiced law for 20 years before he decided it was time for a change. Having always had a love for fiction writing, he turned to his master of fine arts training and started on his first collection of short stories. “It was a new millennium; it seemed like an auspicious time to make a switch,” said Garstang.
His first book, In an Uncharted Country, was a collection of linked short stories that shared some characters as well as the setting. This book caught the attention of Bunny Goodjohn, director of the Writing Program, and Sarah Taylor ’12 when Taylor was working on a collection of linked stories for a senior honors project. “We both fell in love with the work,” said Goodjohn.
While at Randolph for the visiting writer program, Garstang is teaching a special topics class in creative writing. By the end of the class, students will have each finished a short story. Garstang also has encouraged other types of writing. He took students to the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College and each wrote a short piece of ekphrastic flash fiction.
Goodjohn is glad to have Garstang here for the class and for Wednesday’s reading. “He’s a great storyteller and a generous teacher. The combination makes for a wonderful visiting writer,” she said.