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Everywhere You Don't Belong
Cover of Everywhere You Don't Belong
Everywhere You Don't Belong
“A comically dark coming-of-age story about growing up on the South Side of Chicago, but it’s also social commentary at its finest, woven seamlessly into the work . . . Bump’s meditation on belonging and not belonging, where or with whom, how love is a way home no matter where you are, is handled so beautifully that you don’t know he’s hypnotized you until he’s done.” —Tommy Orange, The New York Times Book Review
In this alternately witty and heartbreaking debut novel, Gabriel Bump gives us an unforgettable protagonist, Claude McKay Love. Claude isn’t dangerous or brilliant—he’s an average kid coping with abandonment, violence, riots, failed love, and societal pressures as he steers his way past the signposts of youth: childhood friendships, basketball tryouts, first love, first heartbreak, picking a college, moving away from home. 
 
Claude just wants a place where he can fit. As a young black man born on the South Side of Chicago, he is raised by his civil rights–era grandmother, who tries to shape him into a principled actor for change; yet when riots consume his neighborhood, he hesitates to take sides, unwilling to let race define his life. He decides to escape Chicago for another place, to go to college, to find a new identity, to leave the pressure cooker of his hometown behind. But as he discovers, he cannot; there is no safe haven for a young black man in this time and place called America. 
 
Percolating with fierceness and originality, attuned to the ironies inherent in our twenty-first-century landscape, Everywhere You Don’t Belong marks the arrival of a brilliant young talent.
 
“A comically dark coming-of-age story about growing up on the South Side of Chicago, but it’s also social commentary at its finest, woven seamlessly into the work . . . Bump’s meditation on belonging and not belonging, where or with whom, how love is a way home no matter where you are, is handled so beautifully that you don’t know he’s hypnotized you until he’s done.” —Tommy Orange, The New York Times Book Review
In this alternately witty and heartbreaking debut novel, Gabriel Bump gives us an unforgettable protagonist, Claude McKay Love. Claude isn’t dangerous or brilliant—he’s an average kid coping with abandonment, violence, riots, failed love, and societal pressures as he steers his way past the signposts of youth: childhood friendships, basketball tryouts, first love, first heartbreak, picking a college, moving away from home. 
 
Claude just wants a place where he can fit. As a young black man born on the South Side of Chicago, he is raised by his civil rights–era grandmother, who tries to shape him into a principled actor for change; yet when riots consume his neighborhood, he hesitates to take sides, unwilling to let race define his life. He decides to escape Chicago for another place, to go to college, to find a new identity, to leave the pressure cooker of his hometown behind. But as he discovers, he cannot; there is no safe haven for a young black man in this time and place called America. 
 
Percolating with fierceness and originality, attuned to the ironies inherent in our twenty-first-century landscape, Everywhere You Don’t Belong marks the arrival of a brilliant young talent.
 
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About the Author-
  • Gabriel Bump is from South Shore, Chicago. His nonfiction and fiction has appeared in Slam magazine, the Huffington Post, Springhouse Journal, and other publications. He was awarded the 2016 Deborah Slosberg Memorial Award in Fiction. He received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He lives in Buffalo, New York.

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2019

    Raised on Chicago's South Shore by his sharp-tongued grandmother, who was in the movement back when, Claude McKay Love is something of a nerdy, timid outsider, leaning on friend Janice as he tries to find out who he is and where he belongs. A riot after a young African American's murder forces him to face the question: Do I stay or do I leave? With a 25,000-copy first printing and an eight-city tour.

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 11, 2019
    Bump’s astute and touching debut follows young Claude McKay Love, a black child learning to navigate contemporary Chicago’s South Side after his parents’ acrimonious split. Raised by his strong-willed, foul-mouthed Grandma and her best friend, a gay man named Paul, the duo are honest with Claude about his absent parents and needing to make his own way in life. As a teenager, Claude is advised by his grandma to stay far away from the Redbelters, a gang, telling him the members will never get further than the corner they’re standing on. As the Redbelters gain notoriety, Grandma attempts to organize their neighbors to stand up to them, but to no avail: the neighborhood erupts in a standoff between gangs and police, forever transformed by shootings, destruction, and terror. Along with Grandma and Paul, Claude and his close friend Janice try to rebuild their lives after the violence without falling victim to despair. Hoping to leave his broken hometown behind, Claude heads to Missouri for college, where he discovers there’s no way to outrun the past. Bump balances his heavy subject matter with a healthy dose of humor, but the highlight is Claude, a complex, fully developed protagonist who anchors everything. Readers will be moved in following his path to young adulthood.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2020
    A sharply funny debut novel that introduces an irreverent comic voice. Bump tells the story of Claude Mckay Love, a young boy who has been abandoned by his selfish parents in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago. Raised by his spirited grandmother and her close friend Paul, a lovelorn queer man who suffers tragedy after romantic tragedy, Claude chases affection in a community where yearning is everywhere but real intimacy can be hard to come by. Potential friends, like the gifted basketball player Jonah, come and go, promising affection but always frustrating Claude's hopes. "[My] life went on like that," Claude remembers, "people coming and going, valuable things left in a hurry." Grandma is determined that, despite all this, Claude make something of his life. "I'm not going to lose you. You got something special deep in there," she tells him. But when a street gang-cum-political party called the Redbelters, led by the incorrigible demagogue Big Columbus, instigates a riot after a police killing of a young boy, Claude's entire life is turned upside down. In the riot's aftermath, Claude latches onto journalism as his passion, something that might lift him out of the South Side. It takes him from Chicago to Missouri, but when an old crush and family friend turns up in his college dorm one day, Claude learns that escaping the past is easier said than done. Bump brings a manic yet reflective energy to Claude's story. By telling it in short vignettes rather than a traditional narrative, he creates striking images and memorable dialogue that vibrate with the life of Chicago's South Side. Exchanges like one between Jonah's parents and Paul--over whether New York or Chicago is the mecca of basketball--are genuinely hilarious. The novel is almost devoid of a real plot or anything resembling well-rounded characters and threatens to become repetitive at times. In the end, though, Bump's voice is so distinct and funny that a reader might overlook those shortcomings. A comic novel that is short on story but abundant in laughs.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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