Written in precise, elegant prose, Garth Greenwell’s Cleanness is an almost unbearably poignant book about a man whose life, like so many, has been transformed by the discovery and loss of love.
‘This is an exceptional work of fiction, which places Greenwell among the very best contemporary novelists’ – The i
Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, stirs with hope and impending upheaval. Soviet buildings crumble, unrelenting winds lash the city, political protesters flood the streets with song.
Amid this disquiet, a young American teacher prepares to leave the place he’s come to call home. In a reflective mood, heightened by his imminent departure, he grapples with the intimate encounters that have marked his years abroad, each revealing startling insights about what it means to seek connection: with those we love, with the places we inhabit and with ourselves.
Chosen as a book of the year in the New Yorker, Daily Telegraph, Observer, New York Times, BBC, TIME and Irish Times.
A New York Times Notable Book of 2020.
Longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize.
This is an exceptional work of fiction, which places Greenwell among the very best contemporary novelists * The i * An unbearably wonderful, eloquently sexual, thoughtful, emotional delight of a novel - Garth Greenwell writes like no one else -- Eimear McBride, author of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing I loved Cleanness. It's a page-turning love story if you read it for that; it's a lambent, thought-provoking intervention on desire and others' knowability if you read it for that; and if you read it for both, you'll get the best of it. 10/10 -- Naoise Dolan, author of Exciting Times A novel of devastating honesty and beauty -- David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl I don't know how Garth Greenwell writes such delicate, profane fiction. Reading this book made me want to sit with my emotions and desires; it made me want to be a better writer -- Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties So rarely do words make comprehensible the inevitability and confusion of desire and determination as Garth Greenwell's writing does. Cleanness captures the indefinableness of pain and intimacy, love and alienation, vulnerability and sustainability -- Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants An impressive book: moving, radical, both beautiful and violent, unexpected. Garth Greenwell is a major writer, and his writing provides us tools to affirm ourselves, to exist - to fight -- Edouard Louis, author of The End of Eddy Stunning, provocatively revelatory and atmospherically profound. Here is love and sex as art, as pulse, as truth -- Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women Garth Greenwell is an intensely beautiful and gorgeous writer. Most American literature seems neutered by comparison -- Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood Extraordinary . . . The range in these stories is part of their triumph and part of what makes their existential sorrow so profound . . . Incomparably bittersweet . . . Brilliant -- Ron Charles * Washington Post * One of the more stunning accounts of sex in literature . . . One puts the book down, and the light feels a bit hotter and the heart stings more sharply * White Review * Greenwell is a great stylist * Spectator * You should read this book because it contains the year's most thrilling sex writing -- Katy Waldman * New Yorker * Greenwell is a master of precision: everyday intimacy is so well wrought that it can feel unbearable to read, as if he cuts too close to the skin * Financial Times * Garth Greenwell has joined the canon of great gay writers . . . enthralling * Daily Telegraph * Cleanness is wise and illuminating . . . a talented writer of beautiful sentences, and an insightful guide to the strange ways people have of loving each other * Guardian * This book is brilliant * Observer * Incandescent . . . Greenwell has an uncanny gift, one that comes along rarely * New York Times * Radiant . . . compassion, that supreme quality in a fiction writer, is a main source of Greenwell's power -- Sigrid Nunez * New York Review of Books * Greenwell may be the finest writer of sex currently at work. He is certainly the most exhilarating * Times Literary Supplement * Intense, emotional and super-sexy * Sunday Telegraph * A brilliant examination of love and intimacy -- SJ Watson * The Times * Greenwell displays an extraordinary skill at handling time . . . A piece of bravura writing . . . A style that is both clinically precise and fiercely sensual . . . Exquisite -- Colm Toibin * New York Times Book Review *
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?