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Everywhere You Don't Belong

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,779 ratings  ·  330 reviews
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 he ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Algonquin Books
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  • Everywhere You Don't Belong by Gabriel Bump
    Everywhere You Don't Belong

    Release date: Jan 12, 2021
    "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 i ...more

    Format: Print book

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    Availability: 10 copies available, 2352 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Jan 24 - Feb 07, 2021

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Rosa Though I'm not that familiar with Claude McKay's work except for a few poems (definitely mean to fix this soon), and am only halfway through this nove…moreThough I'm not that familiar with Claude McKay's work except for a few poems (definitely mean to fix this soon), and am only halfway through this novel (loving it), I've also been reading with your question in mind, though for me it's not a question of "was this a coincidence?" but rather, "what are all the parallels?" Due to the current Claude McKay revival (including release of previously-unpublished work), I've read some recent articles about his life and work (NYT mostly) - I think Bump's choice of name for his protag is 100% intentional.

    Claude Mckay was:

    1. an immigrant in America whose work largely identified him with an African American movement - my impression is that he often wrote about black people all around the world, especially those who had immigrated to other places
    2. initially very swept up in the ideas of communism but eventually became disenchanted, at a time when many of his peers were still galvanized by communist ideals
    3. a devout Catholic near the end of his life, which didn't mirror the faith/spirituality of many of his peers

    While none of the above directly echoes any of Gabriel Bump's protag's life, the idea of never fitting in no matter where he goes or who he tries to tell himself he is, the idea of perpetually being an outsider, fits.

    And from a writer's standpoint, the strongest parallels between Claude McKay's writing and Gabriel Bump's, evident from the early chapters:

    1. writing about queerness like it's NBD - the central father figure in Everywhere You Don't Belong is Paul, whose life carries as much sadness as any of the other characters', but it never has anything to do with his being gay;
    2. and speaking of sadness, writing about some of the more harsh realities of being black without worrying about how that would come across to the mainstream white gaze - in Claude McKay's case, this opened him up to criticism from well-respected African American thinkers such as W.E.B. Dubois, who accused him of playing to white mainstream's worst fears about black people. Likewise, Bump doesn't seem to hold anything back about what growing up in Chicago's South Side was like, but alongside the grim aspects, there's a definite sense of community, pride, and love.(less)

    Community Reviews

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    Average rating 3.72  · 
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     ·  1,779 ratings  ·  330 reviews

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    Angela M
    Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
    I loved Claude McKay Love, the main character in this coming of age story of a young black man, growing up on the South side of Chicago. Claude, abandoned at 5 by his parents is raised by an unconventional, activist grandmother who loves him. He’s heartbroken and so was I. Claude cries a lot over being left by his parents, over the death of black teenager, dead in the street, killed by a cop while the boy was entering a home to feed the cats for the people on vacation. Must be stealing they said ...more
    Chris Blocker
    Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
    I worry readers are going to be expecting something from this book that is very different from what they receive, and this will only drag down the rating. Everywhere You Don't Belong is definitely a book very much about the issues of social justice and racism, but it is very much written in a clever, darkly comic manner. This is a novel for fans of David Foster Wallace and Adam Levin, particularly the latter. The same kind of quirky characters with endearing nicknames you'd find in The Instructi ...more
    Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
    Claude Mckay Love grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother after his parents abandoned him at a young age. She is a great influence in his life and pushes him to continue his education while avoiding the drug and gang violence from their neighborhood.

    After a violent riot, Claude is haunted by the event and sets his sights on leaving Chicago. The home and city that he knew have been altered and he is tired of the injustices. He yearns for a place to fit in and event
    Larry H
    Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: netgalley, blog-tour
    Poignant and so timely, Everywhere You Don't Belong , Gabriel Bump's debut novel, packs a powerful punch.

    Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Claude McKay Love has seen a lot of things. Raised by his Civil Rights-era activist grandmother and her best friend, they try to make him believe he can achieve greatness. But Claude has mostly seen mediocrity and abandonment, and he doesn’t believe that greatness is routinely accessible by young Black men.

    But as his community is rocked by violence and c
    Nancy Oakes
    Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it

    full post here:

    First, a huge thanks to Algonquin, who sent me an advanced reader copy. When I began reading this novel, I was sort of taken aback at the simplicity of it all and I was a bit on the iffy side, but the truth is that the further I got into it the more I realized that it's not simple at all -- it is intelligent and works at a level of complexity I hadn't anticipated.

    Just briefly, I suppose this book is what most people are calling it, a coming
    Matthew Quann
    I tossed out Everywhere You Don't Belong as an option to our book club and got quite a few bites. We wanted to read something that spoke to the times and, specifically, to the Black Lives Matter movement. This stacked up nicely alongside my recent reading trajectory which has included a powerful indigenous memoir, an incredible multigenerational African novel, and a 1970s short story collection about race. By comparison, Everywhere You Don't Belong feels a bit more youthful and drops in some sur ...more
    Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    In case you missed it this list . . . .

    Has been pretty good for me. I didn’t request allllllll of the books, but anything that perked my ears up in interest definitely got put on hold at my local library and I’ve been reading them pretty much as soon as my turn comes up. Everywhere You Don’t Belong was presented as a coming of age story set in the South Side of Chicago told by a young, male, black protagonist and . . . . .

    Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this much at all. There were brief
    Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: african-american
    I was grateful to receive an ARC copy of this. It’s such a good book! The first half is lyrical and fragmented in a beautiful, strong, and original way. It centers on a child living with his family in South Side Chicago (yes, that’s Obama-land!) and is a mixture of Black coming-of-age and reflection on racial injustice. There is a riot, the repercussion of which will be felt throughout the book, and it’s a beautifully and heartrendingly described riot — pain and injustice palpable and searing. T ...more
    Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
    In many ways a good book is like a well-executed kidnapping. They both sweep you up before you even know what is happening. They club you over the head with a tube sock full of quarters and suddenly you are unable to get away. Soon a hanky with suspicious stains and reeking of Chloroform is jammed into your mouth and you find yourself transported to a place you have never been before. A place that is enthralling and all encompassing. And that is it, you have been taken.
    Gabriel Bump’s novel Ever
    Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
    A long, long time ago (2001-02), in a galaxy far, far away (suburban Detroit), yours truly worked in his family’s restaurant amidst a select group of miscreants whose petty shenanigans were as eye-opening as they were unrelatable. It’s not as though I hadn’t been privy to trouble and those who make it. I had just never before associated with people who seem to feed, if not thrive, off of it.

    Case in point: Christine, a bartender and mother of 4, whose credit score was lower than I thought imagin
    Amy Imogene Reads
    4 stars

    Ever read a book with such hypnotic writing that you lose all sense of place and time? Welcome to the words of Everywhere You Don't Belong.

    Writing: ★★★★★
    Characters: ★★★★
    Plot/Pacing: ★★★★

    Claude McKay Love is just trying to live and thrive in life. Born and raised as a Black man on the South Side of Chicago, Claude's lot is already complex and complicated. It's made even more so with the introduction of riots around his home and the situation of his area. His grandmother, a product of the
    Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
    EVERYWHERE YOU DON'T BELONG by debut author Gabriel Bump is a phenomenal story that I read in one sitting. It's funny, it's real, it's witty, it's brilliant, it's a great quick read. The story is about the life story and experience of Claude Mckay Love who grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother and her friend Paul after his parents end up abandoning him as a young child. The stories within the chapters are Calude's personal experience as he sees the world growing ...more
    Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
    A young man comes of age in a tough Chicago neighborhood while dealing with abandonment by his parents and a drive to get away. Strong characters and light comic touches make it a lively read, and a plot line involving protests over a black man’s death at the hands of police make this debut novel very timely.
    Ms YaYa
    Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
    * Before reading this review please know that although kept vague, I will be disclosing what DOES NOT happen. If this still SPOILS the story for you. Do not read any further 🙏🏾

    Claude was a fascinating character, with intriguing circumstances and experiences. Claude’s “love interest”, Janice, and unusual immediate family members were just as fascinating. In fact, what I enjoyed most were the more recent Black culture and Black history references made, as well as the colloquial leaps in time used
    Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?
    Claude is your typical high school kid, trying to figure out what he is going to do for the rest of his life. He lives on the South Side of Chicago, where life is not always the greatest. Surviving his parents leaving him, rioting and violence in his hometown. When he meets Janice, he think he may have found the one person to make the journey a little better, but Janice has plans of her own that may or may not include Claude. Together or apart, will Claude be able to make it through this tumultu ...more
    Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: fiction
    Frenetic and propulsive, EVERYWHERE YOU DON’T BELONG is a fantastic debut from Gabrielle Bump. And a book I absolutely loved.

    I gravitated towards this book for two reasons. One, it’s billed as a dark comedy. Two, it’s set in Chicago. So I wanted to see what story Bump would cook up, and why reviewers were saying this book isn’t what you’d expect.

    This coming-of-age novel follows Claude McKay Love from age 5, when his parents leave him with his grandmother, through his first year of college. An av
    Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: arc
    I am not sure whether to give this book 3.5 or 4 stars so I will round up for now.

    I don’t really know how to describe this book except that it is different and wild and I liked it. It feels futuristic but it’s set in present day. It feels old and new at the same time.

    Claude, the main character, is both sensitive and brave, smart and not so smart. He is a smart teenager who makes some good choices and some bad choices.

    The first half of the book reads like short stories. And while the second ha
    EVERYWHERE YOU DON'T BELONG by debut author Gabriel Bump is a phenomenal story that I read in one sitting. It's funny, it's real, it's witty, it's brilliant, it's a great quick read. The story is about the life story and experience of Claude Mckay Love who grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother and her friend Paul after his parents end up abandoning him as a young child. The stories within the chapters are Calude's personal experience as he sees the world growing ...more
    I really don’t know how to rate this book. It wasn’t quite what I expected and like many others, I was really enjoying it until the second half or last third. When Claude ends up in Missouri everything seems to kind of take a pointless or at least severely underdeveloped turn.

    But I adored the parts that take place in South Shore, Chicago. I really appreciated the race based musings and discussions, the struggles of growing up in a rough neighborhood but just trying to get along, stay out of tro
    Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Claude McKay Love is a black teenager growing up on the south side of Chicago. His parents abandoned him early on and he has been raised by his fiery, activist grandmother. Claude is an emotional kid and is disheartened by the things he sees around him- his friends being gunned down by gangs or the police, riots against injustices and the bleak future that face most of the kids in his neighborhood. He decides to flee the city and enrolls in college in Iowa, aiming to become a journalist. He soon ...more
    Greg Zimmerman
    Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it

    First appeared at https://www.thenewdorkreviewofbooks.c...

    My experience growing up was quite literally the exact opposite of that of the character Claude in Gabriel Bump's funny, sharp, and tragic debut novel, Everywhere You Don't Belong. I grew up in a pleasant small town in Ohio with a supportive family and no real problems. Still, I moved to a big city the first chance I got. Conversely, Claude's parents abandon him when he's young and he's raised by his grandmother in the at-times rough S
    Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
    This novel refuses to let you pin it down to any one tone or plot point, but it doesn't matter because the sheer poetry of the writing, as well as the (sometimes-gallows) humor, is strong enough to carry the reader along. I was actually put in mind of Donald Glover's "Atlanta" - the setting is obviously different, but both richly convey myriad truths about what it's like to be black in America through absurdist humor, unpredictable plot lines/tone, and a deep sense of place.

    Unfortunately, someth
    Deedi Brown (DeediReads)
    Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
    All my reviews live at


    Everywhere You Don’t Belong was a moving, fast-paced, poignant coming-of-age story about a young Black man from Chicago.

    For you if: You are looking for a strong #OwnVoices example of commercial literary fiction.


    “And they’ve said, ‘Martin Luther King was a puppet.’ And these people who’ve said Martin Luther King was a puppet have also said, ‘Brother Malcolm got it right: any means necessary.’ And both those broth
    Greta Sutherland
    Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
    As a white Midwesterner, I must say I felt a little voyeuristic peering into the world of a South Side Chicago teen as he navigated his way through life.

    As I read EVERYWHERE YOU DON’T BELONG, I was repeatedly struck with how much mental fortitude can be cemented at a very early age. For some, strength and bravery are developed through strong family encouragement and societal achievements. For others, it is forged from repeated loss and boldly overcoming overwhelming obstacles.⠀

    Often the media p
    Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
    I don't quite remember what drew me to the book, but I remember eagerly awaiting for the release date to approach. But it sounded like a really interesting tale of a young man growing up in Chicago and coming of age with all of the dramas and angst that time period brings (plus with societal/cultural issues).

    Claude is growing up with his grandmother in Chicago and deals with life. His grandmother's live-in boyfriend (sort of), relationship troubles, being bullied at school and elsewhere, trying
    Mar 08, 2020 rated it liked it
    While I enjoyed the book, a coming of age novel of a young black man Claude who is searching for a way to fit in, to make something of himself. The setting is the South Side of Chicago. I think the first part of the book kept me engaged, but that fell off about halfway through. I think this was quite a different style of writing as well. Different is good, though it sometimes made it hard to follow. I appreciate that Claude wanted to make changes in his life, and that like some people, there is ...more
    Emi Bevacqua
    Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
    Shelves: fiction
    I'd be lying if I said this coming-of-age story about Claude didn't make me uncomfortable at times whatwith the violent upbringing in Chicago's South Shore by his grandma and her live-in partner of sorts, the inappropriate sexual relationship he shares with his little friend Janice, and basic lack of communication between all parties regarding all and sundry.

    What I did really like was Claude's awareness of black history, white privilege and social justice; his list of six important dates in Bla
    Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: fiction
    Exactly the kind of book I needed to pull myself out of the depression. Thank you to Mark for recommending it.
    Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I seem to have been reading a lot of books on race in America lately, some on purpose, some because that’s what the library have been stacking so heavily as if to prove something. This was definitely one of the finer works, I find that levels of subtlety make all the difference. And this book doesn’t make itself into a tool to hammer in its message, it just tells a story and leaves the readers to draw their own conclusions. There is, of course, a message, but it’s well delivered. So here you hav ...more
    Bryn Lerud
    Oct 21, 2020 rated it liked it
    A novel about a Chicago family and about hatred amongst groups of people in Chicago. It was depressing.
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    Gabriel Bump is from South Shore, Chicago. He received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Gabriel’s first two novels—Everywhere You Don’t Belong and The New Naturals—are forthcoming from Algonquin Books.

    Articles featuring this book

    Halfway through the year, 2020 has gifted readers with some amazing novels from Black writers. We rounded up this list of new fiction...
    158 likes · 39 comments
    “If there’s one thing wrong with people,” Paul always said, “it’s that no one remembers the shit that they should, and everyone remembers the shit that doesn’t matter for shit.” 2 likes
    “We think the world is just like Chicago and it isn’t. Civilization has moved on. The rest of the world isn’t still corrupt, broken, wild, and dangerous.” 0 likes
    More quotes…