Real LifeBook - 2020
"A blistering coming of age story" -- O: The Oprah Magazine
Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times , The Washington Post , New York Public Library, Vanity Fair, Elle , NPR, The Guardian , The Paris Review, Harper's Bazaar , Financial Times , Huffington Post, BBC, Shondaland, Barnes & Noble, Vulture , Thrillist , Vice , Self , Electric Literature, and Shelf Awareness
A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, from an electric new voice.
Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is working uneasily toward a biochem degree. An introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, he has left behind his family without escaping the long shadows of his childhood. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends--some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But over the course of a late-summer weekend, a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with an ostensibly straight, white classmate, conspire to fracture his defenses while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community.
Real Life is a novel of profound and lacerating power, a story that asks if it's ever really possible to overcome our private wounds, and at what cost.
From Library Staff
This beautifully written #ownvoices debut novel about black, gay doctoral student a midwestern university brought me out of my pandemic reading slump. Highly recommended. -William, Cataloging and Collection Development Coordinator
From the critics
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It feels impossible in the way only possible tasks can seem, when you know that despite the scale of what you must do, it's not really beyond the realm of possibility to do it, and so it feels impossible because you know you must.
The most unfair part of it, Wallace thinks, is that when you tell white people that something is racist, they hold it up to the light and try to discern if you are telling the truth. As if they can tell by the grain if something is racist or not, and they always trust their own judgement. It’s unfair because white people have a vested interest in underestimating racism, its amount, its intensity, its shape, its effects. They are the fox in the henhouse.
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