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Out in the Bay

‘Real Life’ from a Black queer point of view

Bill Adams
Brandon Taylor's "Filthy Animals" short story collection came out in June 2021.

Brandon Taylor’s highly praised debut novel, Real Life, gets deep into desire, intimacy, sex, abuse, homophobia, racism, misogyny, love, hate and the blurred lines between friends and lovers. Oh, and cut-throat scientific academia.

Taylor’s novel is loosely based on his own experience as a Black gay graduate student navigating a predominantly white Midwestern campus. In Real Life – over one intense weekend – readers follow protagonist Wallace and his friends as they navigate complex relationships and struggle with the question: What is real life?

On this week’s Out in the Bay, Hear Taylor read from and discuss what O: The Oprah Magazine called a “blistering coming of age story” and what The New Yorker described as a “brooding campus novel,” and give us his takes on personal and societal challenges. He also speaks briefly about his short story collection Filthy Animals, published in June 2021. Our talk first aired and was podcast in Dec. 2020; this is an updated 2021 holiday edition.

Real Life, Taylor’s first novel, was short-listed for the prestigious Booker Prize, named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR and many other media outlets in 2020.

Brandon Taylor’s short stories have appeared in his collection Filthy Animals, mentioned above, and in many other publications, including Guernica, American Short Fiction, The New Yorker online and The Literary Review. Taylor has graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow. You can follow him on Twitter.

Year-end request: Please help us keep bringing LGBTQ news, voices and stories to the world by making a tax-deductible donation to Out in the Bay now. We’ve been promised $2,000 from an anonymous donor who will fork over the $2k if we get that much from other donors by January 1st. Thank you!

This episode was produced by Kendra Klang; hosted, edited and updated by Eric Jansen.

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Eric Jansen is a long-time broadcaster and print journalist. A former news anchor, producer and reporter at KQED FM, San Francisco; KLIV AM, San Jose; and Minnesota Public Radio, Eric's award-winning reports have been heard on many NPR programs and PRI's Marketplace. His print work has been in The Mercury News, The Business Journal, and LGBTQ magazines Genre and The Advocate, among other publications. He co-produced the June 2007 PBS documentary Why We Sing!, about LGBTQ choruses and their role in the civil rights fight.