Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times Editors’ Choice
"A blistering coming of age story" O: The Oprah Magazine
A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, from an electric new voice.
Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is working uneasily toward a biochem degree. An introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, he has left behind his family without escaping the long shadows of his childhood. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends — some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But over the course of a late-summer weekend, a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with an ostensibly straight, white classmate, conspire to fracture his defenses while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community.
Real Life is a novel of profound and lacerating power, a story that asks if it's ever really possible to overcome our private wounds, and at what cost.
"Breathlessly physical...steadily exciting and affecting...[a] charged experience." Booklist (Starred Review)
challenging exploration of the many kinds of emotional costs will
resonate with readers looking for complex characters and rich prose."
"[A] stunning debut...Taylor proves himself to be a keen observer of the psychology of not
just trauma, but its repercussions....There is a delicacy in the
details of working in a lab full of microbes and pipettes that dances
across the pages like the feet of a Cunningham dancer: pure, precise poetry." Jeremy O. Harris, The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Brandon Taylor is the senior editor of Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading and a staff writer at Lit Hub. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of Iowa, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in fiction.
Michelle Carroll on PowellsBooks.Blog
Like a fresh notebook or a back-to-school fashion experiment, campus novels are full of promise and possibility. And in a year when academic pursuits feel paused at best, fraught at worst, we’ve compiled some of our favorite novels that get at the specific community norms a campus has to offer...