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.
What Belong To You is the debut novel of American poet, author, literary critic & educator Garth Greenwell. Born in Louisville, Kentucky he taught English at Greenhills, a private high school in Michigan after completing his studies. His first novella Mitko won the Miami University Press Novella Prize & also was the finalist for Edmund White Debut Fiction Award & Lambda Award.
This book is about an American teacher who lives in Bulgaria where he struggles not just with the language but also to follow desire. He meets Mitko at a restroom in Sofia's National Palace of Culture, which is known to be a cruising point for men seeking some sexual satisfaction. Though he wasn't expecting to meet him yet it was a pleasant surprise for him. Our narrator gets immediately magnetised towards this young stranger & meets him several times for obvious reason. While it was business as usual for Mitko but our narrator gets attached to him & started to seek some kind of a bond. But he ultimately comes to realise that he is just another "friend" for Mitko. And then comes the twist which takes our narrator back to his past where he had to go through abuse as he accepted his sexuality.
This book is surely one of its kind, it depicts so many emotions packed together that it will surely move you to the core. The need to satiate one's desire drives this story though it will catch you by surprise when it takes a vivid turn towards a deeper plot. The vocabulary & the way its written is just beautiful, the lines will be etched on your soul forever & reading it once won't be enough. The cover is gorgeous too. This book though doesn't challenge the norms but surely does make you feel connected with the story. The one & only critique which I would like to add is that the author could've omitted *very* detailed parts of situations which weren't that significant with respect to the story. This is one book which needs to be read & shared by everyone.