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Cleanness
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Garth Greenwell returns to the characters and setting of his beloved debut, What Belongs to You, in this deeply moving and elegantly written new book.

About the Author

Garth Greenwell is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, where he was an Arts Fellow. His novella Mitko won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and a Lambda Literary Award.

Reviews

Greenwell may be the finest writer of sex currently at work. He is certainly the most exhilarating . . . If the book is imagined as a body, then cleanness - a total lack of shame in putting sexual passion on the page - is what it achieves in these refreshing depictions. In one brilliant passage, Greenwell even redeems pornographic language itself . . . a glorious, affirmative vision. -- Michael LaPointe * TLS *
Cleanness is stunning, provocatively revelatory and atmospherically profound. Here is love and sex as art, as pulse, as truth. -- Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women
a brilliant examination of love and intimacy -- SJ Watson * The Times *
Garth Greenwell is an intensely beautiful and gorgeous writer. I can think of no contemporary author who brings as much reality and honesty to the description of sex-locating in it the sublime, as well as our deepest degradations, our sweetness, confusion, and rage -- Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood
An unbearably wonderful, eloquently sexual, thoughtful, emotional delight of a novel - Garth Greenwell writes like no one else -- Eimear McBride
Cleanness is a 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.
Cleanness reaches into the relationship between masculinity and violence with more depth than any book I've read in a very long time, and it does it by elaborating both the tender and brutal means that men who try to love other men employ to survive the violence they inherited and the violence they still possess. It is, in the best sense, a disturbing book for the simple reason that it speaks the truth -- Adam Haslett, author of Imagine Me Gone
So rarely do words make comprehensible the inevitability and confusion of desire as Garth Greenwell's writing does. His sensibility is akin to James Baldwin's, and he observes the world with eyes like those of Tolstoy. With shimmering prose and undiluted intensity, Cleanness captures the indefinableness of pain and intimacy, love and alienation, vulnerability and sustainability -- Yiyun Li, author of Where Reasons End
It has been four years since Garth Greenwell's stunning debut, What Belongs To You, was published. I don't think I have read a better new novel in all that time, so to discover that his follow-up is every bit as exquisite was a mixture of relief and joy . . . Greenwell's prose possesses the same luminescence, shimmering with emotional truth . . . This is an exceptional work of fiction, which places Greenwell among the very best contemporary novelists. -- Lucy Scholes * Independent *
In Cleanness, I found an end to a loneliness I didn't know - until now - how to describe. Greenwell maps the worlds our language walls off-sex, love, shame and friendship, the foreign and the familiar-and finds the sublime. There are visceral shocks like I've never encountered in print, and they delighted me, again and again. With each plunge we take beneath the surface of life, lost and new worlds appear. This could only be the work of a master -- Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
The casual grandeur of Garth Greenwell's prose, unfurling in page-long paragraphs and elegantly garrulous sentences, tempts the vulnerable reader into danger zones: traumatic memories, extreme sexual scenarios, states of paralyzing heartbreak and loss . . . These stories are masterpieces of radical eroticism, but they wouldn't have the same impact if they didn't appear in a gorgeously varied narrative fabric, amid scenes of more wholesome love, finely sketched vistas of political unrest, haunting evocations of a damaged childhood, and moments of mundane rapture. Tenderness, violence, animosity, and compassion are the outer edges of what feels like a total map of the human condition -- Alex Ross * New Yorker *
Garth Greenwell's sentences are magical and spellbinding. They breathe, and are alive, in completely unpredictable ways. Words are voyages, says John Donne. Greenwell is a novelist whose art makes a poet stand on his toes -- Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
A novel of devastating honesty and beauty. A gorgeous literary line runs from Death in Venice to Giovanni's Room to A Boy's Own Story to What Belongs to You, and, now, Cleanness, and I will follow it to the last word-- David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife
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
Garth Greenwell, whose first book is a masterpiece, amazingly has written a second book that is also a masterpiece. The great enterprise that Joyce and Lawrence began-to write with utter literal candor about sex, grounding one's moral life and philosophical insight in what that candor reveals about us-finds fulfillment, a late apotheosis, in Greenwell's work. Cleanness is the act of a master -- Frank Bidart
If Henry James were alive in this strange century, if Thomas Mann had been allowed to write raw sex, if Virginia Woolf had slummed it more, if Proust had been born in Kentucky, if they all commingled their blood and brains, we might get something like Garth Greenwell. Cleanness is indescribable, and it is genius. -- Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers
The narrator of Greenwell's debut What Belongs to You returns in this masterpiece of intimacy. An American expat soon to leave his post in Bulgaria, he looks back at his encounters - those rooted in love and those ones where feeling emerged unexpected - recounting, in Greenwell's seamless, acute prose, the violence and surrender, gestures and codes of love and sex. * Financial Times *

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