Title: What Belongs to You
Author: Garth Greenwell
Pages: 204 Pages
On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher walks down a staircase beneath Sofia’s National Palace of Culture, looking for sex. Among the stalls of a public bathroom he encounters Mitko, a charismatic young hustler. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, and their trysts grow increasingly intimate and unnerving as the enigma of this young man becomes inseparable from that of his homeland, Bulgaria, a country with a difficult past and an uncertain future.
Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You is a stunning debut about an American expat struggling with his own complicated inheritance while navigating a foreign culture. Lyrical and intense, it tells the story of a man caught between longing and resentment, unable to separate desire from danger, and faced with the impossibility of understanding those he most longs to know.
What Belongs to You was touted as being this year’s A Little Life. I loved A Little Life, it was a book that I completely fell in love with and it is also a book that broke me in more ways than I knew was actually possible. What Belongs to You was not A Little Life.
The story follows an unnamed narrator who as he embarks on an illicit affair with Mitko, a young man who is selling himself for sex. Things become complicated when we realise the narrator is looking for companionship which is something that Mitko is not really offering…unless the price is right.
My problem with What Belongs to You is that it felt forced. By this I mean that the author is employing as many dark and twisty techniques to the narrative rather than focusing on the story. It is very much a style over substance books i.e. unnamed narrator, a 30 page chapter that consists of one paragraph.
I felt that What Belongs to You became a chore to read and I didn’t have that ‘I can’t put this damn book down’ feeling when reading it.
What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell is available now.
Follow Garth Greenwell (@GarthGreenwell) on Twitter. For further information regarding Garth Greenwell then visit his official website www.garthgreenwell.com
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