Greenwell's first novel is rhapsodic - a sophisticated tale that peers into the contiguous relationship between our desires and our loneliness. Like James Baldwin or the best of Edmund White, the novel's tone is astoundingly elegant, its urbanity and quietude brought sharply into focus when considering how gratuitous the narrative could seem in the hands of a less refined writer.— From Wesley
Long-listed for the 2016 National Book Award in fiction
Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
A New Republic Best Debut Novel of the Year
Named One of the Best Books of the Year by Esquire, Slate, Vulture, The Telegraph (London), Minnesota Public Radio, BookishBuzz, The Guardian (London), The Millions, BuzzFeed, Kirkus Reviews, and Cultured Vultures
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.