What Belongs to You

3.8 based on 2687 ratings & 458 reviews on Goodreads.com
Picador

Publication date: 07.04.2016
ISBN: 9781447280514
Number of pages: 204

Synopsis

On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher walks down a staircase beneath Sofia's National Palace of Culture, looking for sex. Among the stalls of a public bathroom he encounters Mitko, a charismatic young hustler. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, and their trysts grow increasingly intimate and unnerving as the enigma of this young man becomes inseparable from that of his homeland, Bulgaria, a country with a difficult past and an uncertain future.

Garth Greenwell's What Belongs to You is a stunning debut about an American expat struggling with his own complicated inheritance while navigating a foreign culture. Lyrical and intense, it tells the story of a man caught between longing and resentment, unable to separate desire from danger, and faced with the impossibility of understanding those he most longs to know.

In the media

Slim, eloquent and emotionally wrenching, this debut novel is a superb evocation of that curious state known as love . . . Greenwell's shimmering novel recounts an age-old story with such toughness and tenderness as to make it seem new: and that is an art in itself
RTÉ Guide
Utterly absorbing . . . powerful . . . For its mastery of tone and its expert drawing together of a number of disparate elements, Greenwell's narrative feat is utterly remarkable and the final ten pages amount to one of the most moving passages this reviewer has ever read in contemporary fiction
RTÉ
Mitko is the swaggering heart of this slim exceptional novel. Conjured in exquisitely sensual prose, his presence is so animating that when he disappears from the narrative for a time, the reader shares in the longing. But more than a confessional narrative of desire, this is an astute portrait of queer exile . . . Greenwell is acutely aware of what happens to queer lives when they are denied dignity, and the unforgettable Mitko is drawn with a tenderness that persists even in frank depictions of his syphilis (in post-communist Bulgaria, he has little access to basic medicines that treat common STDs). Imbuing an eternal theme – the lopsided nature of infatuation, the mythmaking around the beloved – with a grave specificity, Greenwell displays a mastery of both style and form. As the tightly controlled narration, which admits only reported speech, unfolds, one thing becomes increasingly, heartbreakingly apparent: the real Mitko will remain forever inaccessible
Overland