Brandon Taylor’s deeply affecting story about the emotional cost of reckoning with desire and overcoming pain, which deftly zooms in and out of focus.

His father died a few weeks ago, but Wallace didn’t go back for the funeral, and he hasn’t told any of his friends. Instead, Wallace has spent all summer in the lab breeding a strain of microscopic worms. Self-preservation requires distance. Over the course of one end-of-summer weekend, however, the destruction of his work and a series of confrontations force Wallace to grapple with both the trauma of the past and the question of the future.

The 2020 Booker Prize
Published by
Daunt Books Originals
Publication date
Brandon Taylor

Brandon Taylor

About the Author

Brandon Taylor is the senior editor of Electric Literature's Recommended Reading and a staff writer at Literary Hub.
More about Brandon Taylor

Colm Tóibín on Brandon Taylor's Real Life

Paapa Essiedu reads Brandon Taylor's Real Life


Actor Paapa Essiedu performs a reading from 2020 Booker Prize-shortlisted author Brandon Taylor’s book, Real Life.

This was originally streamed during The Booker Prize 2020 winner ceremony.

Real Life

I think close observation is just how I make sense of the world. I don’t know how to be any other way