Everywhere You Don't Belong


By Gabriel Bump

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New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2020

Winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

“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.


Part One

South Shore

Euclid Avenue

"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."

I remember Euclid Avenue. I remember yelling outside our window, coming in from the street. Grandma putting down her coffee. I remember Grandma holding my ankle, swinging my two-year-old self out the front door, flipping me right-side up, plopping me down next to the Hawaiian violets, plopping herself down next to me. I remember awe and disbelief.

Dad was on the curb, wrestling another man. He had the man's head, the man's life and soul, between his thighs.

Upstairs, above our heads, Mom screamed for the men to stop, to regain their senses, civilize themselves.

"You're friends!" Mom yelled. "You go to church!"

"Say it again," Dad told the man.

"I'm sorry," the man told Dad.

"Sorry for what?" Dad asked the man.

"Sorry for saying you look like Booker T. Washington," the man told Dad.

Dad loosened his grip on the man. Chicago cops came speeding down our street before Dad's loafer could dislodge the man's teeth.

"Gentlemen," Dad told the cops, after noticing me sitting there, applauding. "Not in front of my son."

The cops shook their heads at this ridiculous black-on-black crime.

"You're brothers," the cops said. "You're on the same side."

The man on the ground stood up, brushed grass and dirt off his jeans, wiped his bloody and twisted nose on his torn shirtsleeve, adjusted his purple and blue floral tie, adjusted his large silver belt buckle. He stared at me, this man I hadn't seen before and would never see again. He had a sad face. On his tongue: something important and tragic, a forever-buried secret.

Then Paul ran out with a fireplace poker, with his robe open and his belly fat rippling.

"That's it," Grandma said. "Enough culture for one day."

No one pressed charges. When the cops came around asking, no one had seen anything. It never happened.


Dad's friends hung out in places I couldn't go, on the other side of the tracks, down Jeffrey Avenue, deeper into South Shore. That's where Dad grew up, near the train stop to Indiana, across from the strip mall. That's where Dad's friends lived, still, in apartments clustered near mass transportation—people always coming and going and waiting and never leaving.

Mom was from the Highlands, a three-block chunk of South Shore reserved for black doctors, black politicians, black bankers, and black lawyers—all the rich people too dark-skinned for the suburbs, too poor to live downtown.

Dad's friends didn't come over often.

In the sixties, when they were teenagers, Coach and Dad had tipped buckets.

They snuck up and tipped buckets of fish in the harbor, hauling ass through the golf course before the guy in a Vienna Beef uniform could catch them. That was when South Shore was still Jewish and Irish, before expressways and White Flight and manicured suburbs.

When the guy in a Vienna Beef uniform caught Dad, he dangled Dad by his ankles over the harbor and promised to drown him. There was a moral to that story, but Dad was never sure what it was. Coach thought the moral was don't fuck with anybody in a Vienna Beef uniform.

When they were growing up, Harold Washington was mayor. The Jews and Irish were almost gone. A few stubborn old men refused to leave, clung to their porches until death, didn't care about the neighborhood's changing color. Dad and Coach would recite poetry by the water. Dad, once, wanted to get a doctorate in high Renaissance art. Coach, once, wanted to play in Northern Italy, make a modest living around high culture.

When they were young, Dad and Coach rode their bikes through the Highlands.

When Dad started taking me to see Coach, Mom thought Dad was toughening me up by letting me witness a broken man break further. There wasn't anything tough about Coach. His wife had left him with two babies and moved to Florida. Dad took me to see Coach because Dad thought Coach was capable of murder-suicide.

The first time Dad took me to Coach's apartment, five of us sat in three plastic chairs on Coach's shag rug. Dad bounced the babies on his knees.

The empty fireplace overflowed with dusty trophies. When Coach started crying, Dad made me go into the bedroom with the babies.

One Thanksgiving when I was five, Dad invited Coach over. Paul sat in the living room, watched Detroit struggle against Green Bay, and grunted when Coach pushed the double-wide pink stroller through the door.

"Paul," Coach said. Paul was Grandma's friend.

Coach handed the babies off to Mom and sat next to Paul on the couch.

The game was enough to get Coach and Paul drunk off excitement. Dad wanted to get drunk too. Mom and Grandma kept yelling from the kitchen.

Dad gave me a beer at dinner, which turned into a fight.

"What do you want my grandson to be?" Grandma said.

"What do you want our son to be?" Mom said.

"This is a party, and I don't want him to feel left out," Dad said.

"My grandson is not a follower," Grandma said. "He is his own man."

"My son will be a force in the world," Mom said.

"A father can give his son a beer whenever he wants. I can give my son a beer whenever I want." Dad slammed the table.

Nobody looked at me. While they argued, I chugged the beer as fast as possible. Grandma, Mom, and Dad looked at Coach, who was flinging mashed potatoes at a giggling Paul. He used his fork as a slingshot. Mom slammed the table. Paul wiped the potatoes from his face. Coach turned toward Mom, raised his weapon, and hit Mom on the neck so clumps fell down her blouse. Grandma gasped while laughing. Her bracelets jingled when she grabbed her chest. Dad went for another beer. Paul called Coach a bastard. I felt lightheaded and sick.

The babies' crying marked the end of Thanksgiving. Mom held open the front door, held back her own tears. Dad told me to get my coat.

Jeffrey Avenue felt quiet. Cars dodged potholes with grace. Coach stood at the stoplight and didn't say a word. We all smiled, waited for the light to change, looked at a bus struggle to a stop, and nodded at the faces in the window.

Outside Coach's building, I knelt in front of the babies. Dad grabbed Coach behind his neck.

"Are you going to be okay?" Dad said.

"Can you come upstairs?" Coach asked. "Please."

Dad carried the babies. I folded the stroller and lugged it up. Coach hummed like mad over his jangling keys.

Who said, "God hates me"? Who opened the bottle? Who sat there drinking all night and paced around the room with arms raised toward the ceiling and asked for forgiveness? Who forgot I was standing there? Who didn't hear the babies crying?

Dad woke up the next day with a hangover.

Coach disappeared around Christmas.

The babies ended up in Kentucky, or Pennsylvania.

And my life went on like that: people coming and going, valuable things left in a hurry.

Sixty-Third Street Beach

When Mom and Dad had their final fight, we were late to an all-black rendition of Fiddler on the Roof.

"Fuck Hakeem Olajuwon!" Dad screamed from the dark water.

Dad was out there without a boat, without pants or suit jacket, down to his underwear, past the buoy, rocking with the swells, pumping his arms up and down, jamming to the news—Jordan was coming back. No more baseball. Back to work. Back to the 'ship.

There was a storm coming up the horizon, up from Indiana. Lightning hit that junk barge, that barge always floating on Lake Michigan.

I was out there on the beach, in my nice shoes, stumbling, messing up my nice pants, yelling for my family to stabilize, relax, act normal.

I remember Mom with her dangling earrings. Her bracelets had rubies. Her necklace was sapphire and thick. I remember her near the shore, running, jangling, not caring about broken glass, kicking up sand, not caring about her hair, her shoes, her dress—the final straw.

"Claude," Grandma called from the parking lot. "Fly your behind back over here."

"Join me!" Dad yelled to all of us.

"You'll die!" Mom yelled back.

"Fuck Olajuwon!" Dad yelled to heaven.

"We'll miss the first act!" Mom yelled to a separate and more desperate heaven.

Grandma pulled me into the back seat between her and Paul.

"It's just a game," Paul said. Paul was a Knicks fan.

Grandma got my cheek between her thumb and middle finger. She squeezed and pulled our faces close. Her long false lashes brushed against my eyebrows. Her lipstick, from that close: clumped and peeling, cracked. She wasn't scared; she was hard; she knew.

I don't remember how she smelled; I don't remember what she said. I remember looking past her moving lips. Out there: my father, still past the buoy, still waving his arms, still floating, still here.

The next day, Mom left us and Euclid Avenue and Sixty-Third Street beach. The day after that, Dad followed her. Neither left a note or kiss goodbye.

"That's it," Paul said, then, in the car, before pulling a sleeping mask from his breast pocket. "That's enough culture for one day."

We missed the first and second acts; we missed the play.

Bubbly and Nugget

Ms. Bev asked if our parents loved us. She was crying again. We always said yes when she cried. When the divorce started she brought three lunches to class, eating them throughout the day.

"That's good," she said. "Love is good."

She put her head on the table and bid us to leave. We were nine. We didn't have anywhere to go. There was a foot of snow outside.

Bubbly leaned over and whispered to me. "I think she's going to kill herself."

"How do you kill yourself?" I asked. I loved Bubbly.

She stuck a finger up her nose and ate what she found.

"My parents think she's going to kill herself," she said.

Nugget smiled, showed us an eraser in his mouth.

"She's just sad," Nugget said over the eraser, spit coming down his chin. "Haven't you guys ever been sad?"

Bubbly raised a fist at Nugget. Fear confused Nugget. Back then, he couldn't tell fear from sadness. When he got older he found out. He jumped out of a plane. His parachute didn't open. It was on the news.

He took the eraser out of his mouth and rolled it between his palms.

"Nugget," Bubbly said, "you smell like bologna."

"Thank you," he said, and turned around. Nugget loved bologna.

"You're nice," I said to Bubbly.

I was going to ask Bubbly to marry me, but Principal Big Ass walked in. His real name was Gene Longley IV.

"Mrs. Beverley," Principal Big Ass said. "May I speak with you in the hall?"

"It's Ms. Bev," Nugget said.

"What was that, Jeffrey?" Principal Big Ass asked.

"It's Nugget," Bubbly said.

"What, Tiffany?" he asked.

"It's Bubbly," I said.

"Claude?" His face turned purple.

"Yeah, that's right," Nugget said. Everybody laughed. Nugget put the eraser back in his mouth.

I didn't want a nickname; Nugget and Bubbly didn't like their normal selves. Once, earlier in the year, I spilled an apple juice carton on Ms. Bev's rug, underneath the upside-down world map, with Africa and South America twice as large as America and Europe. After that, Nugget and Bubbly wanted to call me Nigerian Juiceman. That name was too long to catch on. And it wasn't me.

Ms. Bev followed Principal Big Ass into the hall. She looked at us over her shoulder before closing the door.

"See, Nugget," Bubbly said. "That's fear."

"I think I'm always afraid," Nugget said.

"I know, Nugget." Bubbly patted his back. "I know."

Grandma thought Ms. Bev should go down the river.

"For a swim?" I asked.

"The river, Claude," she said. "Listen."

I was listening. She sat on the faded White Sox carpet next to my bed and rubbed my feet.

"You never listen, Claude," she said again. I always listened. Paul leaned against my doorjamb, arms and legs crossed. I thought about pushing him over.

"He does listen," Paul said.

"She really shouldn't put you kids through her shit," she said.

Grandma covered her mouth, apologized through her fingers. She wasn't supposed to swear around me. Through her fingers, she swore again.

I called Bubbly my bitch one day at recess. Principal Big Ass heard and called Grandma. Grandma wanted to know what the context was. Principal Big Ass told her. She was ambivalent about it. He wasn't. We had to change: no more swearing.

Paul told me to call Bubbly my sunshine.

"You kids aren't learning anything." She brought my foot up to her lips. Her lipstick felt like chalk. She had a date.

"Nugget loves bologna," I said.

"Nugget is an idiot," Paul said.

"Nugget's my friend," I said.

"And that Tiffany," Grandma said, picking at my big toenail. "That Tiffany is fast."

I shouldn't have told Grandma that Bubbly and I kissed. She called Bubbly a skank.

"I'm going to marry her," I said.

"Let's pick out a ring tonight," Paul said.

"Then you're going to marry a fast woman that will break your heart," she said. I pulled my knees to my chest.

"You're fast," I said.

Paul whistled and left. Grandma palmed my face. She left too. Her long purple dress got caught in my door. I heard a rip, her running down the steps, the front door slam. That was 8:00 p.m.

Later, Paul opened my door with an empty beer in hand.

"Let's go get that ring," he said.

Paul didn't shovel our walk, even when the snow got deep. He carried me to the salted sidewalk by my armpits. Rainbow Bar was three blocks away. Wind tossed me around. Paul dragged me along. I slipped on ice. He said sorry. The Temptations were playing over the speaker when we arrived. We both nodded at the bartender and went to the backroom.

"I love babysitting," Paul said.

Teeth was there, waiting, patient.

"I hear you want to fuck someone, Claude." Teeth stood up and kissed Paul.

"We're not swearing anymore," Paul said, an arm around Teeth's waist.

"Is that what Claude wants to do?" Teeth asked. "Do you want to fuck someone?"

"No," I said. "I just want to marry her."

"What are you going to do when you're married?" Teeth asked me.

"Go on adventures," I said.

"What are we going to do when we get married?" Teeth asked Paul.

"Go to the moon," Paul said.

"Yeah," I said. "I'd go to the moon with Bubbly."

"Why does love always start with the moon?" Teeth asked.

"Bubbly is my sunshine," I said.

Teeth crouched in front of me.

Paul didn't speak about Teeth much at home. Grandma didn't approve. She thought Teeth was a bad influence and a layabout. Grandma wanted Paul to date a nice man, for once; someone out and proud and successful. What I first knew about true love and happy relationships, I learned from Teeth and Paul in Rainbow Bar's backroom.

"What will you do for your sunshine?" Teeth asked. "Will you protect your sunshine from this cruel world? Will you guide your sunshine through any perils? Will you pay the bills? Will you walk the dogs? Will you take out the trash? Will you hold your sunshine when there's thunder outside? Will you rock the baby to sleep? Will you drive the kids to school? Will you bury your sunshine in the most expensive coffin?"

"Yes," I said. "Of course."

"Leave him alone," Paul said to Teeth.

"Is that what you do for Paul?" I asked Teeth.

"For Paul," Teeth said, "I do anything."

Teeth's sister was in our class also. She sat three rows behind Nugget. Teeth refused to understand the law. Paul and Teeth had dated for six months. It was our secret. Most people knew. Still—Teeth was twenty years younger than Paul. He used to play professional tennis. He was tall and had a spider tattooed on his cheek.

Teeth picked me up.

Teeth spent five years in Cook County for repeated and aggressive gun possession.

Teeth put me down. Paul pushed me toward a foldout chair facing a wall. I sat like I always did and pretended not to listen.

"If you love me, Timothy," Paul said, "you'll move away."

"I can't right now," Teeth said.

"Then when?" Paul asked.

"Why do we have to leave?" Teeth asked.

"This place isn't good for us," Paul said.

"This place isn't good for anybody," Teeth said.

"Let's go to Italy," Paul said.

"I can't," Teeth said.

"Why not?" Paul asked.

"I just can't," Teeth said. "Do you understand? I just can't leave this place. What am I going to do? What place would take me? There's nothing I can do."

"We can love each other," Paul said.

"We can love each other anywhere," Teeth said. "I'll love you always."

"We can love each other in Florida," Paul said.

"I'll love you between heaven and hell," Teeth said. "I'll love you into other dimensions, into other lives."

They went on about love and leaving and staying and possibilities. Real love, I learned that night, is compromise. Teeth agreed to consider a life in Florida. Paul agreed to give Teeth some time to think about it. Teeth kissed Paul goodbye.

Teeth crouched in front of me.

"When you have your sunshine," Teeth said, "don't let your sunshine take you to Florida."

Teeth stood up and kissed Paul one more time. We left him standing at the bar.

Snow started falling when we left Rainbow Bar.

Paul got a call in the morning. Teeth. Metra tracks. Flattened. A fatal accident. According to news reports, Teeth shot himself before falling down.

Paul sat at the edge of my bed until Grandma called for breakfast. He filled his glass with white wine and told me it was juice.

"Life isn't like this," Grandma said, with her hand on Paul's. "Everybody doesn't leave you."

Paul took his pancakes and wine up to his room.

Grandma pulled me to school, through the snow, in her slim wake.

Ms. Bev told us Teeth's little sister was taking time off from school. She told us to take out our math notebooks. We worked on fractions while Ms. Bev ate chicken marsala.

"Did you hear what happened?" I asked Bubbly.

"Yeah," she said. "I heard the sirens. My parents had to go to work."

Bubbly's parents wrote for the Defender.

"What happened?" Nugget turned around.

"Don't you live next to the Metra, Nugget?" Bubbly asked.

"Something bad, Nugget," I said.

"I'm a heavy sleeper," Nugget said. "My mom has to shake me in the morning."

We told him. His eraser dropped out of his mouth. It bounced off the tile.

"That's going to give me nightmares," he said. "I'm sad."

"You're scared," I told him.

"Thanks." He turned around and forgot his eraser.

I asked Bubbly if she wanted to marry me.

"I want to bury you?'" she asked.

My hands got slick with sweat.

"No," I said. "Marry me."

Principal Big Ass walked in.

"Claude," he said. "That's enough."

He stood at the front of the room. His ass blocked Ms. Bev.

"I'm sure Mrs. Beverley told you about what happened to Tanya's older brother," he said.

"It's Ms. Bev," Nugget said. "He exploded on the train tracks."

"Jeffrey," he said. "Do you want to spend lunch in my office?"

Nugget put his head on his desk.

"I know a lot of you are close with Tanya," Principal Big Ass continued. "We arranged for the city to send a counselor. He'll be here tomorrow. I want you to go home, talk with your parents, and come prepared to discuss. That's your homework."

"My parents think a police officer tied him to the tracks because Teeth wouldn't fuck him."

"Tiffany," Principal Big Ass said, in his disappointed voice. "My office. Now."

Bubbly packed her backpack and stomped out the door without saying goodbye. I wanted to tie Principal Big Ass to the tracks.

"Fuck, shit, fuck, shit," I said.

"Very funny, Claude," he said. "Mr. Funny is getting close to detention."

He left before I could close the deal. Nugget moved to Bubbly's desk so I could help him find common denominators.

Grandma had a date in the Gold Coast with some professor; I zipped up her midnight blue dress.

"What happened to Grandpa?" I asked.

"Bad moonshine," Grandma said.

"What's moonshine?" I asked.

"Like Proud Mary in a draught," Grandma said.

"What?" I asked.

"Wildfire," Grandma said.

Paul, when he got sad, hid under Grandma's bed. From down there, he laughed.

"Where did you meet Paul?" I asked.

"Paul was an accident," Grandma said. She reached under the bed and rubbed Paul's head.

"We met in New York," she said. "After your Grandpa died."

"And fell in love?" I asked.

"No," she said. "He stole fifty dollars from me."

"Seventy," Paul said.

"Seventy," Grandma said. "He promised me seventy dollars for a photo shoot and didn't pay me."

"Grandma was hot," Paul said.

"Grandma's still hot, baby." Grandma patted her backside, patted my head, patted wrinkles around her mouth, patted her gray hair.

"I had your mom and needed a place to stay," Grandma said. "Paul let me stay at his place."

"Then Grandma made a movie and took me along for the ride." Paul slid his head back under the bed. I saw the movie once. It was horrible, black and white without direction. Grandma was beautiful; she played a queen.

"Now we're here," Grandma said. "In Chicago. Surrounded by fast little harlots."

"You're fast," I said.

She put her knee in my back and left.

I sat on her faded orange carpet and looked at the top of Paul's head. He was staring at the bottom of Grandma's box spring.

"I'm supposed to talk to you about death," I said. "For homework."

He tilted his head back and looked at me upside down.

"We should've sent you to private school," he said.

"Principal Big Ass said we have to talk about death," I said.

"Principal Big Ass likes women to pour hot wax on his nipples and call him kitty cat." Paul crawled out and stood above me.

"What?" I asked.

"Your parents abandoned you, right?" He headed for the door.

"Right," I said.

"One day Grandma and I are going to abandon you also." He had his back turned to me. "And Tiffany."

"Bubbly," I said.

"Bubbly and Nugget," he said. "And you're going to be alone."

He told me to go to sleep as he walked down the stairs. I stared at my ceiling until Grandma came home. I listened to them through my floor. Paul couldn't stop crying.

Ms. Bev introduced the person from the city. He looked like he came straight from a funeral. Principal Big Ass sat behind Ms. Bev.

"Class," Ms. Bev said over her pizza. "This is Mr. Something."

"Mr. Smithing," he said.

"Mr. Smith." She picked up her pizza and left the room.

"I am Mr. Smithing," he said again, "but you can call me Chuck."

"I'm Nugget," Nugget said.

"That's nice," Mr. Smithing said.

Bubbly wasn't there.

"Do you guys know why I'm here?" Mr. Smithing asked.

"Because death," someone shouted from the back row.

"Because we're too young to die," another voice said.

"My mom says people like you get off on violence and despair."

"I'm here to help you," Mr. Smithing said. "Let's play a game."

Mr. Smithing handed out notecards and colored pens and asked us to describe our greatest fear. After five minutes, he clapped his hands.


  • Winner of the 2020 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence
    Winner of the 2021 Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) New Writers Award for Fiction
    Winner of the 2020 Heartland Booksellers Award for Fiction
    Winner of the 2021 Black Caucus of the American Library Association's First Novelist Award

    A BuzzFeed Most-Anticipated Book of the Year
    Electric Lit Favorite Novel of 2020
    A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books of 2020

    “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

    “A witty coming-of-age tale . . . Bump’s first book manages to be both crazy funny—and deadly serious.”

    “This book is astonishing. You'll be smiling even as your heart is breaking, and you'll tip willingly into this world Bump offers you because what appears again and again are spectacular beams of light, also called love, also called hope, also called family. Gabriel Bump has established himself as a stunning talent to be reckoned with.”
    Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King

    “Briskly paced . . . Bump makes his novel debut with hilarious yet ruthless insight. He mixes his observations of the systemic racism and cycle of unrest with the ridiculousness of and unrelenting affection for human nature. There is no time for hand-wringing or self-pity, but even amidst the injustice and fight for survival, there's time for human contact and love.”
    “Classic bildungsroman, made better by a lot of love for warts-and-all Chicago, and I see dashes of Percival Everett in Bump’s deadpan, how his characters cross the stage with a sashay (and sometimes more). Welcome, Claude! We’re glad you’re here.”
    The Paris Review Daily (Staff Pick)
    “A charming wit infuses Bump’s debut novel . . . Bump’s coming-of-age narrative is propelled by wonderful vignettes with uncannily real dialogue marked by his beguiling humor and insight.”
    The National Book Review

    “[A] pointedly affecting debut novel . . . With deft writing and rat-a-tat, laugh-until-you-gasp-at-the-implications dialog, Bump delivers a singular sense of growing up black that will resonate with readers.”
    Library Journal (starred review)

    "[An] astute and touching debut . . . 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."
    Publishers Weekly

    “A sharply funny debut novel that introduces an irreverent comic voice . . . 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 . . . genuinely hilarious.”
    Kirkus Reviews

    Everywhere You Don’t Belong is an excellent coming-of-age novel that will make you laugh when you least expect it.”
    Shelf Awareness

    “Bump’s first novel is a clipped and penetrating look at adolescent hope in the face of powerful social forces.”

    “[A] spiraling coming-of-age tale about abandonment and perseverance . . . sparks with originality . . . The ripped from the headlines plot of Everywhere You Don’t Belong draws instant interest.”
    Foreword Reviews

    “In Everywhere You Don’t Belong, Gabriel Bump completely, beautifully, and energetically illuminates the heretofore unrecognized lines connecting Ellison's Invisible Man to Johnson's Jesus’ Son. This is a startling, original, and hilarious book. I look forward to reading it again.”
     —Adam Levin, author of The Instructions

    “Sometimes you open a book and you know from the very first page, this thing's alive. You know what I mean? (How often does this not happen? You open a book and it’s just a book?) Gabriel Bump's Everywhere You Don't Belong’s got a racing pulse, and a beautiful propulsion, a ton of humor, wonderful dialogue, deep characterization, and cold-eyed-truth.”
    Peter Orner, author of Maggie Brown and Others 
    “A brilliant and harrowing debut.”
     —Noy Holland, author of Bird
    "Some works you read them and you sense that you will never quite engage life as you did before. Bump is a storyteller at the top of his game, testifying through characters we love and hate, with dialogue so lean, mean and ready, it's explosive. Everywhere You Don’t Belong is a literary blues, raw and rowdy and big and brawling, yet smooth and polished and crafty, a novel that a city like Chicago deserves. Gabriel has achieved here that special confluence of the writer, the craft, and the moment that makes art we cannot afford to ignore, especially at this moment.”
    Arthur Flowers, author of Another Good Loving Blues and I See the Promised Land
    “One solace for living in dark times is they conjure singular new artists like Gabriel Bump whose visions may shepherd us into the light. Everywhere You Don't Belong is a startlingly powerful novel, an unusual concentration of opposing forces—blind rage vs. empathy, comedy vs. tragedy, despair vs. hope—that resists every label it evokes: picaresque, bildungsroman, generational family saga, political novel, comic novel, love story. It’s all of those things at once and much more—an instant American classic for the post-Ferguson/Trump era.”
    —Jeff Parker, author of Ovenman

On Sale
Jan 12, 2021
Page Count
288 pages
Algonquin Books

Gabriel Bump

Gabriel Bump

About the Author

Gabriel Bump grew up in South Shore, Chicago. He received his MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His debut novel, Everywhere You Don't Belong, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2020 and has won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for Fiction, the Heartland Booksellers Award for Fiction, and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association's First Novelist Award. Bump teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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