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Booker Shortlist 2020: Real Life by Brandon Taylor


Could this one be our winner?

The official line: 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.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: While I appreciate that this is a deep and well written book it just wasn’t for me.
Why this could win: It is timely, it tackles important issues and the judges do tend to favour “bleak” books.
Why it might not win: 2020 is bleak enough the judges may go for a “happier” read as the winner.

Anita’s Thoughts:  I only read three of the shortlisted books, but this one is the one I’d like to see win.  This book made me feel, and that’s what I want in fiction.
Why this could win:  Beautifully written.  Truly captures what it’s like to be different in the world when everyone else seems to belong.
Why it might not win:  Very, very character driven with only the loosest of plots.  The lack of a plot might be a strike against it.

Nicole’s Thoughts:   I did predict this for the shortlist, and I enjoyed it.  Didn’t love it, however.
Why this could win:   Topical.
Why it might not win:  I don’t think this book has a chance.

Tracy’s Thoughts:  I liked this one – another author’s first novel. I’m not sure if it’s a Booker book, but it was a good book. The author’s storytelling is great, and I think there’s a bright future for him. I would be okay with this one winning.

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