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What Belongs to You Paperback – 23 Mar 2016
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What Belongs to You stands naturally alongside the great works of compromised sexual obsession such as Thomas Mann's Death in Venice . . . we are dealing with a writer who deserves his plaudits . . . I found myself unable to stop reading . . . Headily accomplished . . . an essential work of our time (Daily Telegraph *****)
Worthy of its comparisons to James Baldwin and Alan Hollinghurst as well as Virginia Woolf and W G Sebald . . . spellbinding . . . a novel of rejection and disgust, displacement and transcendence . . . I found myself trembling as I read it (Evening Standard)
A refreshingly slim, subdued and contemplative piece of work . . . Greenwell writes in long, consummately nuanced sentences, strung with insights and soaked in melancholy . . . What Belongs to You is an uncommonly sensitive, intelligent and poignant novel (Sunday Times)
I had thought of Hollinghurst as I read What Belongs to You, Greenwell's astonishingly assured debut novel, but questioned whether the parallel came to mind because both writers create vivid, enclosed worlds filled with ambiguous and shifting relationships between gay men. In fact, though, the greater similarity lies in their ability to blend a lyrical prose - the prose of longing, missed connections, grasped pleasures - with an almost uncanny depth of observation . . . [The] middle section [is] a masterful study in alienation and escape . . . Like the writers he admires, WG Sebald, Thomas Bernhard and Javier Marías, he is drawn to the idea of a body of work that seems as though it is all one book, or, as with Sebald in particular, a territory in which the reader wanders. It is perhaps too soon to say precisely what Greenwell's own fictional territory will look like - but even this early on, the landscape looks too riveting to miss (Alex Clark Guardian)
A rich, important debut, an instant classic to be savored by all lovers of serious fiction because of, not despite, its subject: a gay man's endeavor to fathom his own heart (Aaron Hamburger New York Times Book Review)
Brilliantly self-aware . . . Greenwell's novel impresses for many reasons, not least of which is how perfectly it fulfills its intentions. But it gains a different power from its uneasy atmosphere of psychic instability, of confession and penitence, of difficult forces acknowledged but barely mastered and beyond the conscious control of even this gifted novelist (James Wood New Yorker)
With What Belongs to You American literature is richer by one masterpiece. The character Mitko is unforgettable, as all myths are. He reigns at the heart of this book, surrounded by the magic flames of desire (Edmund White, author of A Boy's Own Story)
A powerful novel from a writer who seems destined to produce fine work in the years ahead, describing both the condition of loneliness and the insistent cravings of the flesh with precision and sensitivity. [Greenwell] never seeks to manipulate our emotions, but creates a narrative voice so enigmatic that one feels both affection and disdain for him simultaneously. Too often in fiction it becomes clear how an author wants the reader to feel, but Greenwell's character is too complex a creation for any easy judgments. And that is what will make both him and this novel particularly memorable (John Boyne Irish Times)
In his spare, haunting novel, Garth Greenwell takes a well-known narrative and finds new meaning in it. What Belongs to You is a searching and compassionate meditation on the slipperiness of desire, the impossibility of salvation, and the forces of shame, guilt, and yearning that often accompany love, rendered in language as beautiful and vivid as poetry (Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life)
There's a particular joy in reading Garth Greenwell, in having that feeling, precious and rare: here is the real thing (Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs)
For fans of Boy Erased, What Belongs to You portrays the damage inflicted on LGBT people by the negative judgement of family and society.See all Product description
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The author is a poet, and with virtually every line he writes you can tell this. Don’t let the apparent lack of dialogue or the massively extended paragraphs put you off. This is a story about people so real that you feel by the end that you know them as you know your own family (and maybe better, in that families often conceal secrets from one another). Brilliant book. I bought the paperback and the Kindle version, as I’m studying creative writing as a degree. Really sad that it has come to an end and all I can do to reacquaint myself with the characters is to start reading it all over again.
Telling the tale of an American lecturer who meets Mitko, a hustler with whom he enters a relationship of sorts, veering from instant sexual attraction to anguished rejection. It’s honest in its depiction of their sexual relationship and though powerfully erotic, this is not eroticism designed to titillate or shock, but a candid look at a relationship born from a need for physical contact.
Both the main characters are deeply flawed and damaged individuals, which makes them fascinating to read about. I found myself swaying from sympathy to deeply felt frustration towards both the American and Mitko, as both take advantage of the other’s weaknesses. Yet at the same time I found it equally effortless to care about them, because they are so damaged.
It’s not full of action, of events, or grand gestures, but is a moving depiction of two men and the bond that connects them. In fact it is a master class in character led storytelling.
What Belongs To You will stay with me for some time to come and is a story I think will stand the test of time. So intricate that the more times it is read, the richer the reading experience will be!
Insight to some of the intimate and private scenarious I have been privy to myself, rarely, if ever told with such seemingly naturally inconspicuous accuracy to intrinsically important nuance as here.
Don't be put off by the start of the book as it flourishes later with much gratifying quality.
Can't wait for his next book!
It was a really good read although I thought it ended a little hastily.
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