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Bookseller Recommendation

If you enjoyed What Belongs to You, then you’ll love Cleanness.

“I liked What Belongs to You, but I LOVED Cleanness. In this honest and utterly human work, Greenwell revisits the narrator and world of his previous novel. In beautifully crafted prose, he deftly captures the complexities of human interiority, identity, and sexuality. Where What Belongs to You offered a deep dive into the narrator's sense of self through the lens of a single relationship, Cleanness uses a kaleidoscopic and episodic structure to great effect. We move easily from the intimately personal to the global and political. Throughout the collection, Greenwell's narrator offers a deeply resonant look at growing up and living as a gay man, both in the American South and in Eastern Europe; falling in and out of love; and sex as an act of healing and of self-destruction. Greenwell is a gem of a writer, and he's a truly stellar reader. I both read a copy and listened to the audiobook, and Cleanness gains even more immediacy and empathy when it's voiced. Slim but never light, this volume cements Greenwell's place in my personal literary canon alongside the likes of Virginia Woolf. ”

Rediscovered Books image Rayne, Rediscovered Books


"Garth Greenwell’s superb narration makes a powerful case for authors reading their own work. This bleak, honest novel is about the impossibility of knowing all the complicated truths of a person. Though the novel includes dialogue, Greenwell doesn’t alter his voice as he shifts between characters, a choice that adds to the intensity and power of the first-person point of view." -- BookTrib

This program is read by the author.

In the highly anticipated follow-up to his beloved debut, What Belongs to You, Garth Greenwell deepens his exploration of foreignness, obligation, and desire

Sofia, Bulgaria, a landlocked city in southern Europe, stirs with hope and impending upheaval. Soviet buildings crumble, wind scatters sand from the far south, and political protesters flood the streets with song.

In this atmosphere of disquiet, an American teacher navigates a life transformed by the discovery and loss of love. As he prepares to leave the place he’s come to call home, he grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his years abroad, each bearing uncanny reminders of his past. A queer student’s confession recalls his own first love, a stranger’s seduction devolves into paternal sadism, and a romance with another foreigner opens, and heals, old wounds. Each echo reveals startling insights about what it means to seek connection: with those we love, with the places we inhabit, and with our own fugitive selves.

Cleanness revisits and expands the world of Garth Greenwell’s beloved debut, What Belongs to You, declared “an instant classic” by The New York Times Book Review. In exacting, elegant prose, he transcribes the strange dialects of desire, cementing his stature as one of our most vital living writers.

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