Hello and welcome back to You Wrote the Book, with Simon Savidge. Each fortnight Simon is joined by a special guest author to discuss their life as a writer and as a reader.
This episode Simon’s special guest is Garth Greenwell, whose debut novel What Belongs To You is getting rave reviews around the world. 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.
Simon had the pleasure of interviewing Garth a few weeks ago about What Belongs to you. They discussed the novel, it’s themes of love, obsession, lust, language and sex as well as queer literature and much, much more.
Simon will be back with a whole host of authors over the next few weeks and months. In the meantime if you would like to suggest authors you think Simon should be getting on the show, or simply want to have a natter about books, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on twitter @youwrotethebook.
If you want to hear Simon talking more books do join him every other week with Thomas Otto on The Readers Podcast, you can also find him chatting and reviewing book on his blog Savidge Reads. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes where you can find previous episodes with Rose Tremain, Christos Tsiolkas, Armistead Maupin, Helen Macdonald, Hanya Yanagihara, Richard Flanagan, Jessie Burton, Michel Faber, Emily St John Mandel, Joanna Cannon and many more.