Debut novelist Brandon Taylor’s satirical, psychologically rich campus drama Real Life asks whether we can build relationships and find family even as we navigate, and recover from, our pasts, however complicated they may be. Wallace is four years into a postgraduate biochemistry programme, in a life that’s a world away from his childhood in Alabama. Following the death of his father, he is forced to weigh up his friendships and relationships to measure whether it’s safe to let them in. Real Life is a deeply affecting story about the emotional cost of reckoning with desire, and overcoming pain.

Brandon Taylor is the senior editor of Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading and a staff writer at Literary Hub. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of Iowa. His first book, Real Life, was shortlisted for the 2020 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

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