Real Life – Brandon Taylor


A biochemistry student’s experiences of life as a gay, black man captured over one weekend

✚ “What started off as a fairly innocuous read soon became anything but. Reading Real Life after Burnt Sugar and The Shadow King I was more than ready for some shallow banter between some smart American twenty-somethings, however the eventual brutality beneath the happy accomplished veneer of the characters often made me feel sick.

“The experience of being an ‘other’ was conveyed in such a raw and authentic way made me reflect on the times where I might have ‘othered’ people without realising. This was another very uncomfortable read with not much breathing room for the reader.

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book and so far the shortlisted books have been amazing.” – Suzy

‘Yes, your deficiencies. I won’t say what they are. You already know. You come from a challenging background. It is unfortunate, but it is how it is.’

✚ “Wallace is a black, gay biochemistry student from Alabama who is simply trying to get ahead in his studies and find his place in a white, straight dominated world. But as he breeds nematodes in the lab and teeters on the edge of friendships he must endure a raft of prejudices, both intentional and inherent.

“In Real Life, one weekend of Wallace’s life is examined, with conversations, dinner parties, relationships and human interactions studied microscopically. What’s discovered is not just brutal honesty but an exacting portrayal of intimacy, sexuality, violence and loneliness. What’s more the weekend is replayed in a perfectly paced, delicate and nuanced writing style.

“There is no part of this book that is unbelievable, it really is a story about one person’s real life. I felt like I was right there, in every scene, observing and absorbing the lives of this group of friends. A moving experience that I sometimes hated and sometimes loved but always respected.” – Rachel

Published 2020
Riverhead Books
329 pages

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