Opening hours Gallery: Wednesday to Sunday 12–5pm

Novel Writers: Brandon Taylor

Real Life

Novel Writers: Brandon Taylor

Real Life

Brandon Taylor, photograph courtesy Bill Adams



Brandon Taylor introduces his debut novel Real Life (shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020), a breathtakingly intimate exploration of queer black masculinity, loneliness, violence, desire and more.

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.

Brandon Taylor in-conversation with Zoe Steadman-Milne of Bristol Ideas

Watch again

“Real Life asks questions many of us shy from: Who is entitled to pain? How useful is an apology? Can sharing our feelings free us from them? . . . Amid the flurry of new novels drifting down like so many balloons, Real Life is the one weighted with confetti.” – The Paris Review

Real Life is published by Daunt Books.

Support your local bookseller – Spike Island recommends buying a copy of the book from Storysmiths.

This event is in partnership with Bristol Festival of Ideas.

Novel Writers

This event is part of our Novel Writers series which invites debut novelists to read from and talk about their work in an informal setting. Prior knowledge of the text is not essential. Topics of discussion include theme, structure, inspiration and the craft of writing. These sessions are a great way to discover new writing talent and great books.

In partnership with