In his debut novel, Brandon Taylor tells a masterly tale of slights, microaggressions, and silent rage with fluid, poetic prose that will often slap you across the face with its frankness. Wallace is a graduate student in the biochemistry program at a midwestern university. The only Black and queer person in his department and his circle of friends, he often masks his true emotions for the sake of getting along. This changes one fateful weekend shortly after his father’s death. A series of events and an unexpected sexual encounter force Wallace to confront much of what he had been avoiding, both at school and from his childhood. Read Real Life for an unvarnished study of the human psyche and all its complexities.

Real Life, by Brandon Taylor. Published by Riverhead Books. The editor was Cal Morgan; the agent was Meredith Kaffel Simonoff. Real Life is a finalist for the Publishing Triangle’s Edmund White Debut Fiction Award; the winner will be announced on May 12.