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Real Life

£9.59£9.99

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 BOOKER PRIZE

Wallace has spent his summer in the lab breeding a strain of microscopic worms. He is four years into a biochemistry degree at a lakeside Midwestern...

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SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 BOOKER PRIZE

Wallace has spent his summer in the lab breeding a strain of microscopic worms. He is four years into a biochemistry degree at a lakeside Midwestern university, a life that’s a world away from his childhood in Alabama. His father died a few weeks ago, but Wallace didn’t go back for the funeral, and he hasn’t told his friends Miller, Yngve, Cole and Emma. For reasons of self-preservation, he has become used to keeping a wary distance even from those closest to him. But, over the course of one blustery end of summer weekend, the destruction of his work and a series of intense confrontations force Wallace to grapple with both the trauma of the past, and the question of the future.

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.

‘This debut is a fresh take on the age-old ‘campus novel’ tradition, providing a deeply painful, nuanced account of microaggressions, abuse, racism, homophobia, trauma, grief and alienation.  We admired the vivid ways the book evokes daily, repetitive action as well as memory and fantasy to get at its profound central question: what is ‘real life’ anyway?’ – Booker Prize judges

‘With the rigour of the laboratory, Taylor wields scalpel-like prose, putting human behaviours under the microscope... precise and masterly.’ – Financial Times

‘Taylor is a masterful observer, his details of everything from a tennis match to sex and dissections both clinically and exquisitely precise.’ – Telegraph

‘Even at its darkest moments, Real Life is a piercingly beautiful book. In tracing the fault-lines that rip through Wallace’s emotional world, Brandon Taylor has written a truly exquisite story of love, sex, death and microbes that is both intimate and expansive.’  –  TLS

‘The prose is exact and clear; Taylor has a keen sensitivity for surface detail.’ –  Times

‘With its icily cool sentences, mysterious tonal shifts and determinedly open ending, Taylor’s novel is also a curiously liquid thing, with troubling, opaque depths.’ –  Guardian

Real Life is a campus novel in the tradition of Sally Rooney and Ben Lerner, and Taylor is as good as either of them a sharp, witty and generous writer.’ —Literary Review

‘Psychologically compelling, incisively satirical… this is a brilliant book worthy of a wide audience.’ – Observer

‘An essential novel from a truly exciting new writer.’ –  Irish Times

‘An elegant take on the “campus novel” and a deeply moving study of race, grief and desire.’ –  Sunday Times

Real Life is a tender, deeply-felt, perfectly-paced novel about solitude and society, sexuality and race. It explores what the past means and, with brilliance and sympathy, dramatizes the intricacies of love and grief.’ – Colm Tóibín

Real Life beautifully dissects themes of loss, rejection, sexual violence and racism with forensic, but compassionate insight.’ – Uli Lenard, Attitude Magazine

‘A stunning debut... There is delicacy in the details of working in a lab full of microbes and pipettes that dances across the pages like the feet of a Cunningham dancer: pure, precise poetry.’ – New York Times

‘A manual for life that I wish I’d had sooner.’ – Naoise Dolan, author of Exciting Times

‘A campus novel imagined from the vantage of a character who is usually shunted to the sidelines... [Taylor] endows his narrative with the precision of science and the intimacy of memoir.’ – The New Yorker

‘Extraordinary, brilliant, claustrophobic, tightly wound, heart breaking. I do not have enough words to describe how I loved this book.’ – Daisy Johnson, author of Everything Under

‘With extraordinary intimacy, generosity, exactitude and candour, Brandon Taylor’s Real Life depicts a highly discomforting weekend in the life of a biomedical grad student and, in so doing, exposes the enormous chasm between one person and their lover, friend, lab mate, acquaintance, fellow citizen. A nuanced, devastating and singular novel.’ – Caoilinn Hughes, author of Orchid and the Wasp

‘I devoured Real Life in a couple of sittings. The prose shines and sings, Taylor affording complexity and nuance to his characters in this very assured debut.’ – Caleb Azumah Nelson, author of Open Water

‘Brandon Taylor’s genius lies in the elaboration of ever more revelatory gradations of feeling; in his extraordinary debut he invents new tools for navigating the human dark in which we know one another.’ ‒ Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

 ‘One of the finest fiction debuts I’ve read in the last decade ‒ elegant and brutal.’ – Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias

‘There is writing so exceptional that it demands reverence. Brandon Taylor writes so powerfully about so many things ‒ the perils of graduate education, blackness in a predominantly white setting, loneliness, desire, trauma, need.’ ‒ Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist

Real Life asks questions many of us shy from . . . Amid the flurry of new novels drifting down like so many balloons, Real Life is the one weighted with confetti.’ – Paris Review

‘Luminous, from the very first sentence to the last . . . a stunning novel that won’t be easily forgotten.’ – Electric Literature

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Orders received before 2pm will usually be dispatched the same working day, though this is not guaranteed for orders placed over bank holiday periods. Orders placed over the weekend will be dispatched on Monday.

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