About the book:
On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. There he meets Mitko, a charismatic young hustler, and pays him for sex. The teacher returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, drawn by hunger and loneliness and risk, and finds himself ensnared in a relationship in which lust leads to mutual predation, and tenderness can transform into violence. As he struggles to reconcile his longing with the anguish it creates, he’s forced to grapple with his own fraught history, including the world of his southern childhood where to be queer was to be a pariah. There are unnerving similarities between his past and the foreign country he finds himself in, a country whose geography and griefs he discovers as he learns more of Mitko’s own narrative, his private history of illness, exploitation, and want.
What Belongs to You is a stunning debut novel of desire and its consequences. With lyric intensity and startling eroticism, Garth Greenwell has created an indelible story about the ways in which our pasts and cultures, our scars and shames can shape who we are and determine how we love.
About the author:
Garth Greenwell is the author of What Belongs to You. He is also the author of a novella, Mitko, which won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for the Edmund White Debut Fiction Prize and a Lambda Award (and a version of which became the opening section of What Belongs to You). A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Greenwell holds graduate degrees from Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Arts Fellow. His short fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, A Public Space, StoryQuarterly, and VICE. He lives in Iowa City, where he holds the Richard E. Guthrie Memorial Fellowship at the University of Iowa.
Praise for Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs To You:
“A rich, important debut, an instant classic to be savored by all lovers of serious fiction because of, not despite, its subject: a gay man’s endeavor to fathom his own heart.”
―Aaron Hamburger, The New York Times Book Review
“This masterfully told story seems certain to find a permanent place on the shelf of modern American classics.” ―Jayne Moore Waldrop, The Courier-Journal
“Exquisite . . . Risk and desire are the ‘coterminous’ elements of the book’s style as well as its action, terms of engagement Greenwell makes plain from its first page . . . Breathtaking . . . It’s hard to tell at times whether the narrator is the innocent abroad or an American abroad among innocents. Greenwell’s insight is that the destruction of innocence is a process that never halts.” ―Christian Lorentzen, New York Magazine
“[What Belongs to You] is outstanding in just about every way a novel could be.”
―Drew Nellins Smith, Los Angeles Times
“Elegant . . . [Greenwell] describes with sensuous and often unflattering precision the union of shame and desire. . . beautifully wrought.” ―Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“The Great Gay Novel for our times.” —Jeffrey Zuckerman, The New Republic