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Cleanness

Garth Greenwell

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Picador

9781509874644
256
Synopsis

Sofia, Bulgaria, a landlocked city in southern Europe, stirs with hope and impending upheaval. Soviet buildings crumble, wind scatters sand from the far south, and political protesters flood the streets with song.

In this atmosphere of disquiet, an American teacher navigates a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love. As he prepares to leave the place he’s come to call home, he grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his years abroad, each bearing uncanny reminders of his past. A queer student’s confession recalls his own first love, a stranger’s seduction devolves into paternal sadism, and a romance with a younger man opens, and heals, old wounds. Each echo reveals startling insights about what it means to seek connection: with those we love, with the places we inhabit, and with our own fugitive selves.

Cleanness revisits and expands the world of Garth Greenwell’s beloved debut, What Belongs to You, declared ‘an instant classic’ by the New York Times Book Review. In exacting, elegant prose, Greenwell transcribes the strange dialects of desire, cementing his stature as one of our most vital living writers.

In the media
Cleanness reaches into the relationship between masculinity and violence with more depth than any book I’ve read in a very long time, and it does it by elaborating both the tender and brutal means that men who try to love other men employ to survive the violence they inherited and the violence they still possess. It is, in the best sense, a disturbing book for the simple reason that it speaks the truth

Adam Haslett, author of Imagine Me Gone

Garth Greenwell is an intensely beautiful and gorgeous writer. I can think of no contemporary author who brings as much reality and honesty to the description of sex—locating in it the sublime, as well as our deepest degradations, our sweetness, confusion, and rage. Most American literature seems neutered by comparison. His perfect noticing extends to the way we experience love and loneliness, the feeling of exile, and the eternal search for home—wherever, or in whomever, that may be found. I am always recommending Garth Greenwell to everyone

Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood

Cleanness is a impressive book: moving, radical, both beautiful and violent, unexpected. Garth Greenwell is a major writer, and his writing provides us tools to affirm ourselves, to exist - to fight

Edouard Louis, author of The End of Eddy.