Synopses & Reviews
A FINALIST FOR THE 2020 BOOKER PRIZE
AND THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE JOHN LEONARD PRIZE
A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE
"A blistering coming of age story" O: The Oprah Magazine
Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Public Library, Vanity Fair, Elle, NPR, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Harper's Bazaar, Financial Times, Huffington Post, BBC, Shondaland, Barnes & Noble, Vulture, Thrillist, VICE, SELF, Electric Literature, and Shelf Awareness
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.
"Equal parts captivating, erotic, smart and vivid...[rendered] with tenderness and complexity, from the first gorgeous sentence of his book to its very last... Taylor is also tackling loneliness, desire and — more than anything — finding purpose, meaning and happiness in one's own life." Time
"There is writing so exceptional, so intricately crafted that it demands reverence. The intimate prose of Brandon Taylor's exquisite debut novel, Real Life, offers exactly that kind of writing. He writes so powerfully about so many things — the perils of graduate education, blackness in a predominantly white setting, loneliness, desire, trauma, need. Wallace, the man at the center of this novel, is written with nuance and tenderness and complexity.... Truly, this is stunning work from a writer who wields his craft in absolutely unforgettable ways." Roxane Gay
"Brandon Taylor emerges as a powerhouse.... In tender, intimate and distinctive writing, Taylor explores race, sexuality and desire with a cast of unforgettable characters." Newsweek
"[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
challenging exploration of the many kinds of emotional costs will
resonate with readers looking for complex characters and rich prose."
"Breathlessly physical...steadily exciting and affecting...[a] charged experience." Booklist (Starred 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.