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.
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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.