What Belongs to You

By Garth Greenwell,

Book cover of What Belongs to You

Book description

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.

Winner of the Debut of the Year Award at the British Book Awards.

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Why read it?

4 authors picked What Belongs to You as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

There are very few books that capture the particular suffering of loving someone and not being loved back.

Greenwell’s powerful debut novel is one of them. Set in the capital city of Bulgaria, the novel begins with an encounter that the narrator, an American teacher working abroad, has with Mitko, a sex worker. It is written in prose whose beauty, beat by beat, is as achingly beautiful as the unrequited love the narrator has for Mitko. This is one to savor slowly.

My copy is heavily underlined. Garth, a trained opera singer, reads like a dream. Accompany your reading with…

From Shastri's list on international queer heroes.

When I came out, I learned about the underbelly of gay life: man-on-man sex in public spaces. Desire led me there; guilt and shame pushed me away. In his award-winning, charged debut novel, Greenwell captures this antagonism between desire and guilt, shame, and regret.

Anticipation, multifariousness, risk, and anonymity that heighten eroticism draw men, gay or straight, single or married, who seek anonymous, one-off sex. Predatory hustlers like Mitko also go with led to an erotically and psychologically charged relationship with the object of the narrator’s desire.

More than a gay novel, What Belongs to You captures the tension between…

From Loren's list on for mature men who have sex with men.

This debut novel published in 2016 is about a gay American teaching English in Bulgaria in the post-Soviet era, a young man tragically drawn to a charming but doomed male hustler. Greenwell is, to my mind, one of the great contemporary writers emerging in the 21st Century, and he uses a musical ear and love of language to transport us to the broken heart of humanity, by letting us literally see and feel the transcendent event that can at times be at the core of sexual experiences. To simply label this book as "gay fiction" is a great disservice, as much…

Many stories set abroad focus heavily on themes of identity, which makes sense, as characters who choose to leave home seldom feel a strong connection to where they’re from, and life in an unfamiliar environment allows for a clearer, less distracted examination of the self. This debut is no exception, poignantly mining the conflict of shame and desire at the heart of a gay American teaching in Bulgaria, where homosexuality has yet to gain acceptance, mirroring the unresolved rejections of his childhood.

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