While I’ve never read any of Garth Greenwell’s work, I’ve certainly been hearing a lot of positive praise for his 2016 debut novel, What Belongs to You, about an American teacher in Bulgaria. I just read the opening lines and enjoyed them a great deal:
That my first encounter with Mitko B. ended in a betrayal, even a minor one, should have given me greater warning at the time, which should in turn have made my desire for him less, if not done away with it completely. But warning, in places like the bathrooms at the National Palace of Culture, where we met, is like some element coterminous with the air, ubiquitous and inescapable, so that it becomes part of those who inhabit it, and thus part and parcel of the desire that draws us there.
In his interview with The New Yorker (here), Greenwell calls the story collection he’s working on right now, which will contain “An Evening Out,” “very much a companion to the novel: all of the stories are set in Bulgaria, all of them feature the same narrator.” He would, he says, write a section of the novel and then write a story in the same general world.
For fans of What Belongs to You, then, this should be a must read. I’m definitely interested and am curious what I might miss having no familiarity with the novel.
I’m looking forward to the discussion below.