Real Life (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Wow. This beautiful debut novel by Brandon Taylor is sure to make you an immediate fan. Tender, honest--and a shy, queer, bio-nerd protagonist you'll fall in love with...I can't speak highly enough about this book, or about Taylor's subtly nuanced writing style. Very true to "real life," as the title suggests, and layered with all of its many complexities from start to finish. I can't wait to read *everything* that Taylor writes next!

— Kaylie


A FINALIST for the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the VCU/Cabell First Novelist Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the NYPL Young Lions Award, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award

"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.

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.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525538899
ISBN-10: 0525538895
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: February 16th, 2021
Pages: 336
Language: English