Add Garth Greenwell's What Belongs To You in Your Summer Reading List!
Posted in: BOOKS AND WEB
What Belongs to You is the sparkling debut novel by Garth Greenwell. It is a claustrophobic book about a gay American writer who moves to Bulgaria to teach English and write poetry.
Forced into the Sofia underworld to look for partners, the un-named lonely narrator becomes obsessed with street-wise rent boy Mitko, whom he meets for the first time in a public bathroom. It is a bleak story that explores the empty and ultimately doomed relationship between these two protagonists.
Mitko is a well-drawn character who manages to evoke the reader’s sympathy at times, while being devious and repulsive on other occasions. The main character feels attracted to him and wants to help him but is also well aware of his own desire to maintain what he views as his superiority over the rent boy.
The narrator lives with the constant shame of not living the life that other people want him to. This is only occasionally alleviated by his refusal to hide or deny his sexuality, offering the hope that he can achieve salvation from his own shame and loneliness.
What Belongs to You has been warmly received by critics so far. For example, Edmund White has called it a “masterpiece”, while it has been compared so other famous tales of sexual obsession such as Lolita and Death in Venice.
It is a very well- crafted and unsettling book that handles complex situations and moral ambiguity extremely well. Perhaps the biggest highlight comes in the middle when the main protagonist finds out that his father is dying. While walking out in the streets of Sofia he obsessively goes over his own life story.
This isn’t a light read but it is a hugely interesting book that is sure to leave its readers with a lingering taste of the Sofia underworld and of the complex moral issues covered in its pages.
Images: NYTimes.com, SmileyPete.com | MYC Writer: Robert BellSubscribe to UpdatesRelated Articles