Book details

What Belongs to You

A Novel

Author: Garth Greenwell

What Belongs to You

What Belongs to You


About This Book

Longlisted for the National Book Award in Fiction • A Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction • A Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize...

Page Count
On Sale

Book Details

Longlisted for the National Book Award in Fiction • A Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction • A Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction • A Finalist for the James Taite Black Prize for Fiction A Finalist the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • A Finalist for the Green Carnation Prize A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice A Los Angeles Times Bestseller

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by More Than Fifty Publications, Including: The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The New York Times (selected by Dwight Garner), GQ, The Washington Post, Esquire, NPR, Slate, Vulture, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (London), The Telegraph (London), The Evening Standard (London), The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herald, The Millions, BuzzFeed, The New Republic (Best Debuts of the Year), Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly (One of the Ten Best Books of the Year)

"Garth Greenwell's What Belongs to You appeared in early 2016,
and is a short first novel by a young writer; still, it was not easily surpassed by anything that appeared later in the year....It is not just first novelists who will be envious of Greenwell's achievement."—James Wood, The New Yorker

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.

A conversation between Garth Greenwell and Hanya Yanagihara is included inside the e-book edition.

Imprint Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



In The News

"The first great novel of 2016 . . . Greenwell’s ability to parse the complex emotional push-and-pull . . . is incredible, and rivals books like Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life or Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels . . . The ending will probably destroy you (if I remember correctly, my reaction was something like a pained “Oh.”). And in Mitko, Greenwell has created one of the best characters in recent years. What Belongs to You is a great tragedy, and Greenwell is a great writer. I’ll be reading whatever he writes next." —Gabe Habash, Publishers Weekly

"A triumph . . . the novel takes its place on a rare shelf of fiction that includes James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room and Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name . . . Greenwell's gorgeous, roaming prose untangles questions of transaction, identity, cruelty, and just how much of knowing a stranger is willful invention." —Christopher Bollen, Interview

“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 Jack Holmes and His Friend

“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

"This is a project of rare discernment and beauty, and it is not to be missed. A luminous, searing exploration of desire, alienation, and the powerful tattoo of the past." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Greenwell's novel is a brave and articulate psychological exploration of lust and desire," —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

What Belongs to You is a rich and sensually detailed exploration of love and obsession. A haunting, beautiful novel.” —Rabih Alameddine, author of An Unnecessary Woman

“Garth Greenwell is a unique, and uniquely welcome, voice in American letters. The consciousness on display in his debut novel is so rich and restless that it seems practically inexhaustible: a consciousness that rises to heights of both passion and intellect—of passion harnessed by intellect. What Belongs to You very much seems to me not only like a great novel but like the first installment in a great body of work.” —Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Illumination

“In prose that is at once refined and lavish—the quiet dignity and control of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day coupled with the agonized passion and sexual tension of André Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name—Garth Greenwell takes us deep inside a specific Bulgarian subculture to examine the universal: the disparity between the uninhibited lives we desire and the bearable lives we choose. I began reading What Belongs to You in admiration; I ended in tears. An exquisite debut.” —Jamie Quatro, author of I Want to Show You More

“I am in awe of this book. So intimate, so honest, so exquisitely crafted, it broke my heart and left me in tears. It showed me a Bulgaria both familiar and entirely novel, rendered with candor and deep affection, and characters whose plight and desires seemed at first foreign yet, before long, so dear. Garth Greenwell has written a marvelous book; an important book—one whose impact is as much artistic as it is cultural. What Belongs to You expands not simply the world of letters, but also our collective knowledge of what it means to be human.” Miroslav Penkov, author of East of the West

About the Creators

What Belongs to You

What Belongs to You