What Belongs to YouBook - 2016 | First edition.
Long-listed for the 2016 National Book Award in fiction
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.
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He stood there for a while as he drank, looking out over the street where I live, which seems never to have been given a name. None of the smaller streets in Mladost have names, though in the center the nation’s whole history, its victories and defeats, the many indignities and small prides of a small country, play out in the names of its avenues and squares. Here in Mladost, it’s the blokove, the huge towers, that anchor one in space, each with its own number individually marked on city maps.
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