On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath Sofia's National Palace of Culture. There he meets Mitko, a charismatic young hustler, and pays him for sex. He 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, 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.
©2016 Garth Greenwell (P)2016 Recorded Books
I just couldn't stop listening. The author writes so many truths I didn't know before but the moment I read them I recognized them. Emotions I didn't know existed were there for me to understand and realized I had felt them before. I loved the characters and the narrator was perfect. This was a great book, the kind of book that makes you treat people differently after reading it because you just want to be kinder, especially to the ones that look like Mitko.
Garth Greenwell's quiet but urgent style is superb and this, his debut, is stunning in every respect. His novel is a profound dissection of a character caught between desire and morality.
A young American man is working as a teacher in Bulgaria. There he meets and becomes infatuated with a young man named Mitko. Initially the two develop an intense relationship that exists at the axes of shame and desire.
Thereafter follows a period of self reflection which includes recollections shameful, humiliating, and alienating. Greenwell fearlessly confronts the difficulties of a young gay man coming to know himself with a genuineness that is humbling to the reader.
Lately, poet-novelists such as Garth Greenwell are forming the base of my favourite contemporary storytellers. They often bring a lyricism to their storytelling that weaves well with the audio form. Audio seems the perfect format in which to experience these authors. I'm deeply fond of Garth Greenwell's creation as told by Piter Marek, whose narration is intimate, sincere and perfect.
There has been much praise calling Greenwell's book "The Great Gay Novel". I think it stands with E. M. Forster's "Maurice", and with the novels of Alan Hollinghurst and David Leavitt. I'm very surprised to see it left off the Man Booker long list for this year; to me it's definitely one of the highlights of the past year and won't soon be forgotten.
This is a must read for people interested in LGBT fiction or anyone interested in fine literature.
Report Inappropriate Content