Real Life by Brandon Taylor
“They held hands until they reached the sliding door that opened into the night air, and then, tentatively, reluctantly, they became separate people again.”
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 defences while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community.
“Miller pulled on his hand and Wallace let himself be drawn in. They didn’t kiss or anything like that. Miller just held him until the sound of the music changed. It was time to go back out to their friends. They held hands until they reached the sliding door that opened into the night air, and then, tentatively, reluctantly, they became separate people again.”
Brandon Taylor is the author of the acclaimed novel Real Life, which has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. 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.