Brandon Taylor’s memorable narrator, Wallace, is a Black queer postgrad student at an American University. Wallace is a man hiding in plain sight, suffering constant aggressions and slights, but the complexity with which he is written ensures that he avoids simple victimhood. This is a touching study of overlapping alienation – generational, racial, sexual and academic. A profoundly contemporary novel that has moved all at the Book Lounge who have read it.
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
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.