"You don't know he's hypnotized you until he's done."
We are thrilled once again to introduce you to one of our debut authors this year. Please meet Gabriel Bump, a brilliant new talent and author of Everywhere You Don't Belong—one of the most anticipated novels of the year.
The praise and excitement for Everywhere You Don't Belong have been building for a couple of months now, and the reviews are simply glowing, including the two quotes above, and this one below from Tommy Orange's review in the New York Times:
"It’s an elusive and risky thing to attempt in a literary work: to be funny—especially if you’re writing about sad things like trauma and loss. It’s the rare book that can achieve an appropriate balance between heaviness and levity, and it’s my favorite kind of novel. In his debut, Everywhere You Don’t Belong, Gabriel Bump pulls this off not just generously but seemingly without effort. This is 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, never self-righteous or preachy." —Tommy Orange, The New York Times
•BuzzFeed’s Most Highly Anticipated Books of 2020: “A bighearted coming-of-age.” •The Millions’ Most Anticipated Books of 2020: “Spirited novel of a kid just trying to be a kid.” •Chicago Tribune’s Ten Books to Read in Winter 2020: "Is there nowhere in America a young black man can be safe? Amid all the heartbreak, Bump injects sly humor." •The New York Times’ Fourteen Books to Watch for in February •The AV Club’s Five New Books to Read in February
About the book
Everywhere You Don't Belonggives 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, Everywhere You Don’t Belong is attuned to the ironies inherent in our twenty-first-century landscape.
About Gabriel Bump and how he came to write this novel
Everywhere You Don't Belong is a Chicago book, and Gabriel is a Chicago writer. It took leaving Chicago for him to realize that fully. But his novel is completely of, about, and by the city, the city most people don't know.
"I wanted to show the Chicago not many outsiders understand. I wanted to write a novel for the teenagers riding the Jeffery Local with their headphones on, their hats turned straight, their minds on girlfriends and forever love, their unfinished algebra worksheets crumpled in their backpacks, their dreams about belonging to a peaceful world. I wanted to represent the spectacular average—the sometimes plain and sometimes harrowing journeys of all of us in the middle," he writes in this essay about growing up in South Shore, leaving for school, returning to Chicago, and writing this stunning (and most decidedly far from average!) debut novel.
(That's Gabe in the photo above as a toddler in a South Shore park.)
Chicago bus lines that inspired Everywhere You Don't Belong
Gabriel shared this list of the bus routes he—and Claude in the novel—took while growing up in Chicago and how those routes shaped his view of the city and his life.
Jeffery Local, #15 We moved slow up Jeffery Boulevard, turned left before the lake, and made our way to Stony Island Avenue. I’d ride from my house in South Shore to school in Hyde Park. During the early-morning and late-afternoon rushes, the Jeffery Local, crowded with teenagers and people headed to work, felt like a hectic classroom.
Jackson Park Express, #6 I’d ride the Jackson Park from 67th Street all the way downtown and back again, moving from South Shore to Hyde Park to Lake Shore Drive to Michigan Avenue skyscrapers. If I started downtown, on Wacker Drive, headed south, I would see Chicago’s entrenched segregation unfold before my eyes. The passengers would start as a diverse blend. By the time I reached home and got off at 67th, all the faces were black.
Jeffery Jump, #14 This was the only way to shoot straight from South Shore to downtown; you could skip the stops in Hyde Park. This bus overflowed with adults leaving their neighborhood for work. The bus would ferry us along the lake and deposit the passengers at Grant Park. Moving so quick from South Shore to downtown felt like air travel, traveling between two cities.
Inner Drive/Michigan Express, #146 If I stayed at a friend’s house on the northside, I would start my journey back south on this bus. I’d find a seat in the back, put my headphones in, and try to blend into the white professionals and shoppers. I could transfer to the Jackson Park Express close to downtown.
Garfield, #55 Chicago’s famous "L" trains didn’t run near South Shore. One summer during college, I visited my girlfriend in suburban Oak Pak often. My hour-long journey northwest showed me parts of Chicago I’d never seen before. I’d take the Jeffery Local, transfer to the westward Garfield bus, transfer to the Green Line, move west and north through unfamiliar Chicago landscapes.
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