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Real Life Reviews

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Real Life: A Novel

Brandon Taylor

Score pending

1 review

Imprint: Riverhead Books,U.S.
Publisher: Penguin Putnam Inc
Publication date: 20 Feb 2020
ISBN: 9780525538882

Deftly zooming in and out of focus, Real Life is a deeply affecting story about the emotional cost of reckoning with desire, and overcoming pain.

1 Prize for Real Life

Man Booker Prize
2020 Longlist

Margaret Busby, Chair of the 2020 judges, says: “Each of these books carries an impact that has earned it a place on the longlist, deserving of wide readership. Included are novels carried by the sweep of history with memorable characters brought to life and given visibility, novels that represent a moment of cultural change, or the pressures an individual faces in pre- and post-dystopian society... As judges we connected with these writers’ well-crafted prose, the mastery of detail, the arresting sentence, the credibility of the narrative arc, the ability to use to the full, the resources of storytelling. Unplanned, our final selection encompasses both seasoned favourites and debut talents ― a truly satisfying outcome.”


4 stars out of 5
7 Aug 2020

"With the rigour of the laboratory, Taylor wields scalpel-like prose, putting human behaviours — along with Wallace’s Petri-dish worms — under the microscope."

Yet Taylor makes Wallace more complex than a mere victim; he can even be unsympathetic and antagonistic. And if Real Life owes its Booker nomination partly to the timeliness of its racial theme, the author’s broader accomplishment is his dissection of the contours of emotion. His prose is precise and masterly, as is his rendering of Wallace’s peer group dynamic. By turns bitter and tender, Real Life is a finely wrought addition to gay literature. More than that, Wallace’s voice brings fresh nuance and microscopic scrutiny to the Black Lives Matter debate.