What Belongs to You
Green Carnation Prize
British Book Awards: Debut Fiction of the Year
James Tait Black Prize for Fiction
Winner of the Debut of the Year Award at the British Book Awards.
Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize.
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, their relationship growing increasingly intimate and unnerving.
As he struggles to reconcile his longing with the anguish it creates, he's forced to grapple with his own fraught history: his formative experiences of love, his painful rejection by family and friends, and the difficulty of growing up as a gay man in southern America in the 1990s.
Startlingly erotic and immensely powerful, Garth Greenwell's What Belongs to You tells an unforgettable story about the ways our pasts and cultures, our scars and shames can shape who we are and determine how we love.
Longlisted for the National Book Award in Fiction.
A Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
A Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction.
In the media
What Belongs to You stands naturally alongside the great works of compromised sexual obsession such as Thomas Mann's Death in Venice . . . we are dealing with a writer who deserves his plaudits . . . I found myself unable to stop reading . . . Headily accomplished . . . an essential work of our time
Daily Telegraph *****
Worthy of its comparisons to James Baldwin and Alan Hollinghurst as well as Virginia Woolf and W G Sebald . . . spellbinding . . . a novel of rejection and disgust, displacement and transcendence . . . I found myself trembling as I read it
A refreshingly slim, subdued and contemplative piece of work . . . Greenwell writes in long, consummately nuanced sentences, strung with insights and soaked in melancholy . . . What Belongs to You is an uncommonly sensitive, intelligent and poignant novel
I had thought of Hollinghurst as I read What Belongs to You, Greenwell's astonishingly assured debut novel, but questioned whether the parallel came to mind because both writers create vivid, enclosed worlds filled with ambiguous and shifting relationships between gay men. In fact, though, the greater similarity lies in their ability to blend a lyrical prose - the prose of longing, missed connections, grasped pleasures - with an almost uncanny depth of observation . . . [The] middle section [is] a masterful study in alienation and escape . . . Like the writers he admires, WG Sebald, Thomas Bernhard and Javier Marías, he is drawn to the idea of a body of work that seems as though it is all one book, or, as with Sebald in particular, a territory in which the reader wanders. It is perhaps too soon to say precisely what Greenwell's own fictional territory will look like - but even this early on, the landscape looks too riveting to miss
Alex Clark Guardian