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The Late Americans

A Novel

Paperback
$15.50 US
5.51"W x 8.25"H x 0.81"D   (14.0 x 21.0 x 2.1 cm) | 11 oz (312 g) | 24 per carton
On sale May 23, 2023 | 320 Pages | 978-0-593-71303-7
Sales rights: US, Canada, Open Mkt
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NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR BY VOGUE, ELLE, OPRAH DAILY, THE WASHINGTON POST, BUZZFEED AND VULTURE


“Erudite, intimate, hilarious, poignant . . . A gorgeously written novel of youth’s promise, of the quest to find one’s tribe and one’s calling.” —Leigh Haber, Oprah Daily

The Booker Prize finalist and widely acclaimed author of Real Life and Filthy Animals returns with a deeply involving new novel of young men and women at a crossroads


In the shared and private spaces of Iowa City, a loose circle of lovers and friends encounter, confront, and provoke one another in a volatile year of self-discovery. Among them are Seamus, a frustrated young poet; Ivan, a dancer turned aspiring banker who dabbles in amateur pornography; Fatima, whose independence and work ethic complicate her relationships with friends and a trusted mentor; and Noah, who “didn’t seek sex out so much as it came up to him like an anxious dog in need of affection.” These four are buffeted by a cast of artists, landlords, meatpacking workers, and mathematicians who populate the cafes, classrooms, and food-service kitchens of the city, sometimes to violent and electrifying consequence. Finally, as each prepares for an uncertain future, the group heads to a cabin to bid goodbye to their former lives—a moment of reckoning that leaves each of them irrevocably altered.

A novel of friendship and chosen family, The Late Americans asks fresh questions about love and sex, ambition and precarity, and about how human beings can bruise one another while trying to find themselves. It is Brandon Taylor’s richest and most involving work of fiction to date, confirming his position as one of our most perceptive chroniclers of contemporary life.
1.

The Late Americans

In seminar, grad students on plastic folding chairs: seven women, two men. Naive enough to believe in poetry's transformative force, but cynical enough in their darker moments to consider poetry a pseudo-spiritual calling, something akin to the affliction of televangelists.

Outside, the last blue day in October. Snow in the forecast.

They discuss "Andromeda and Perseus," a poem submitted by Beth, who has reversed the title of the Titian painting in order to center Andromeda's suffering rather than the heroics of Perseus-rapist, killer, destroyer of women.

"The taking is as brutal as the captivity," says this squat girl from Montana.

The poem spans fifteen single-spaced pages, and contains, among other things, a graphic description of period sex in which menstrual blood congeals on a gray comforter. This is designated "the Gorgon's mark," in relation to "the iron stain" left on Medusa's robes following her decapitation by Perseus.

Around they go, taking in the poem's allusive system of images and its narrative density, the emotional heat of its subject matter, its increasing cultural salience re: women, re: trauma, re: bodies, re: life at the end of the world.

"I love the gestural improvisation of it all-so very Joan Mitchell," says Helen, who had once been some kind of Mormon child bride out in a suburb of Denver, and who now lives above a bar in downtown Iowa City, writing poems about dying children and pubic lice.

"I mean, like, so sharp, diamond sharp. Could cut a bitch, you know? God." Noli, nineteen, child prodigy. Disappointing her parents. Poetry instead of, what, medical school, curing cancer?

"Totally. So raw, though. So visceral."

"And heightened-" Mika, twenty-eight, Stevie Nicks impersonator in her bangles and boots and gauzy drapery.

"-charged-up, high-voltage shit-" Noli again, so talkative today. So chatty.

"Voice, voice, voice." Here, Linda, black from Tulsa. Braids. Glossy, perfect skin. She went to UT Austin, did a PhD in physics at MIT. Finished. Or dropped out. Either way, here in Iowa with the rest of them. In some kind of tension with Noli, also black, also brilliant. Not sisters. High-intensity mutual exclusion.

"Finally, something real," Noli says. Linda's gaze sharpens. "But totally rigorous. Like, not fake slam-poet shit. Just voice."

"I want this in my veins. Hard," Helen says.

The effluvia of praise washes over Beth, who receives their compliments with a placid glow. The instructor, never quite in contention for the Pulitzer but never quite out of it either, nods slowly as he presides over them like a fucking youth minister.

Or so Seamus imagined as he drowsed in half focus. Then, coming back to himself, to the room, becoming present, he really looked. Beth's lips were in a thin line, her eyebrows in deep grooves. Miserable despite the praise, when praise seemed so much the point of the poems they wrote. To be clapped on the back. Celebrated. Turned into modern saints and martyrs.

Curiouser and curiouser, thought Seamus, that a person, presented with what they wanted most, could seem so miserable about it.

Along the upper wall of the seminar room, trapezoidal panes of glass. The room was all sleek, dark-wood beams and soaring windows, barnlike in its effect. Early afternoon sunshine pooling on the scuffed floors. Locked cases of books by writing program alumni who had gone on to midlist glory.

The patina of prestige, so much like the corroded wax on the floorboards, had seen better days. That was the thing about prestige, though-the older and more moth eaten, the more valuable. There was a certain kind of poet for whom prestige was the point. The poetry was the prestige, and if no one saw you writing a poem, being a poet, then you were not a poet. For these poets, seminar was the zenith of their lives as artists. Never again would they have, on a weekly basis, such attention channeled upon their performance of poetry.

"This poem really troubles notions of reliability. Because, like, who is more an authority on an experience than the person doing the experiencing, right? But, like, the inconsistencies in the telling really make you wonder if the truth is really a palimpsest of falsehoods, and-" Helen again, though now interrupted by Garza, half Tunisian, half Quebecois, but raised in Toronto and Oakland.

"Totally. In this very Vicu–a way, like in Spit Temple-"

"I prefer Moraga's take on personal history, and how we bridge gaps in the archive with-" Noreen, West Virginian with a faint lilt that might have been faked-it was curiously absent when she was drunk-cutting across Garza's response.

"Hartman tells us that archives are constructed in the manner of-" Noli, cutting in, too.

These sundry interruptions and redactions, all the skirmishes and misdirection. Like a dog finally catching its tail and chewing it down to the gristle. Seamus looked to his right at Oliver, who was listening intently with a pleased, receptive expression. How, Seamus wondered, could he take this all so seriously, as they wore on talking about the violence of the archive and Cherr’e Moraga and Cecilia Vicu–a, whose work was not even remotely on point for the poem at hand. This wasn't poetry. This was the aping of poetry in pursuit of validation. This was another kind of poetry theatric: If you just said enough names, people assumed you knew what you were talking about and tended to attribute the vagueness of the reference to their own ignorance. But Seamus had read both Moraga and Vicu–a. He had read the critical essays of Saidiya Hartman-avant the MacArthur, bien sžr-and the critical essays in response to Hartman's work. He knew America to be a war of contradicting archives. Different histories with their own particular turbulences.

It would have been easier for these poets to say that sometimes you lied and sometimes you were mistaken and sometimes the truth changed on you in the course of telling. That sometimes trauma reconfigured your relationship both to the truth and to the very apparatus of telling. But no, they went on signifying. Tethering their bad ideas to recognized names and hoping someone would call them smart, call them sharp, call them radical and right, call them a poet and a thinker and a mind, even if they were just children.

"And the part about the blood on the sheet! I mean!" Noli said. "Stunning. Irrefutable."

Seamus flipped back through the poem until he got to the line about the Gorgon's mark, which had surprised him in its venereal vividness. It had the vibe of a detail you might find in a good poem. As if out of O'Hara by way of Kooser.

But reading back over the line, Seamus felt tickled. What kind of person, what kind of poetic organizing intelligence, upon seeing menstrual blood on a bedsheet after not-great sex, thought of Medusa's decapitation? Too funny. Not the blood itself, but the pretentious linkage. There was the duress. The transubstantiation of the real thing into something so freighted with meaning that it collapsed in on itself. The whole poem became a joke. This variety of poem often surfaced in seminar: personal history transmuted into a system of vague gestures toward greater works that failed to register genuine understanding of or real feeling for those works. Self-deceptions disguised as confession.

Seamus giggled to himself.

The instructor, low troll of a man with a head of high white hair, looked at him. Paused.

"Something to add, Seamus?" Everyone looked at him then. This was, he knew, a way of marshaling attention to himself. It was the only charismatic trait he possessed, but he had no control over it. True, he could have tried harder. This too was a performance, but he considered it morally acceptable because he knew it was a performance. He didn't pretend it was poetry.

He shuffled the papers a moment, but then, breaking out into a little giggle, he said, "So, like, her pussy is a Gorgon head? Is that like a Trump thing?"

A little magic trick: silence, the rolling blackout of their anger. Then, gradually, the lights going back on. Annoyance. Irritation.

Ingrid Lundstrom said, "I think it's more saying that we live in a world that has turned women's bodies into objects of revulsion and pain-and, how our pleasure is not our own? I think we need to honor that."

Ingrid had been in his class at Brown. In their sophomore year, she got published in The New Yorker with a nakedly autobiographical poem about her father's conversion to evangelical Christianity and his subsequent self-immolation. She was the kind of poet whose work was chiefly about herself, as if all that had transpired in the existence of humankind was no more consequential than the slightly nervy account of her first use of a tampon. He thought her poems craven and beautiful and utterly dishonest.

"Yes, but, like, her cooter is full of Medusa blood. Am I being obtuse? Am I missing the allusion?"

Oliver tried to intercede, laughing. "Negative capability, right?" he said.

The instructor said, "We are here to witness the poem."

Seamus snorted. Ingrid replied dryly, "I just think it's important to remember that the speaker of the poem is clearly carrying a legacy of violence, and this ambivalence toward desire/body/love/want is valid."

Witness and legacy of violence and valid: such terms made poetry seminar feel less like a rigorous intellectual and creative exercise and more like a tribunal for war crimes. Seamus hated it very much-not because he believed that trauma was fake, but because he didn't think it necessarily had anything to do with poetry.

"Are you a poet or a caseworker?" Seamus asked.

"What the fuck did you just say to me?"

Such withering piety, such righteous fury. He delighted in Ingrid's façade cracking.

"It's not a gendered term-unless you think it is. Now that would be sexist."

Ingrid stood and gave Seamus a bored, dismissive glance. Then she went to the sink in the back of the room to fill an electric kettle.

"You're being a child," Helen said, sotto voce.

Seamus made a show of screwing up his face and rubbing his eyes. He pouted.

"We are getting far afield here," the instructor said. He was looking straight up into the exposed beams, as though waiting for a signal from the divine.

"They're the ones calling names. My comments were textual," Seamus said. Through all of this, Beth stared into her notebook and scribbled furiously until she had soaked the corner of a page black with ink. Seamus leaned forward, elbows on his knees, watching her wrist wrench back and forth.

"Inappropriate."

"Asshole."

Such a chorus of opprobrium. Like the witches in Macbeth, but less fun. Less ridiculous glee.

"I'm triggered by your insults," Seamus said. "They remind me of my torturous childhood. Please stop."

Ingrid set the kettle on its stand and flicked the switch. It screeched as it came to life.

"The poem," the instructor said. "The poem is everything."

"Maybe you should take a breather, champ," Oliver said. He brought his hand to the back of Seamus's neck.

"You betcha, pal," Seamus said. He showed his teeth. Oliver just shook his head. But Seamus couldn't stop. He tasted the glut of their attention. The sweet iron tang of it. He was thirsty for more. The looks on their faces, the anger, the annoyance. So sure of themselves. Of their positions.

"I think we could all do with some fresh air," the instructor said. "Maybe we table for this week. You are free to go."

Oh, no fun. No fun at all. How unfair. Seamus grunted as he stood. Oliver followed. The rest of them remained in place, composed in various tableaux of waiting. Whispering to one another, exchanging notebooks and pointed looks. Seamus wondered if he and Oliver alone were being dismissed like disruptive children, while the others were all waiting for a second, secret seminar-the real class-to begin. He stood there a few seconds more, but then felt Oliver's hand at the crook of his arm, pulling at him.

Well, fine, he thought. All right.

"Enjoy your yoga," Seamus called over his shoulder, and Noli replied, "Enjoy your bowel impaction."


Them on the bridge, Seamus and Oliver.

Seamus hated, but couldn't resist, the compulsion to relive the harrowing of seminar. Same story, every week, really: so and so said this, so and so said that, can you believe? A silly question. Belief had died with the rise of the contemporary, the instant. Belief being one of those hangovers from some other era, a mere shading of history. But then again, they were fags for belief. They were poets, after all.

"I hate when people title their poems after paintings. Ekphrasis is so dead, man. Bleak and needy shit."

"Yeah, I guess that's right. Fatuous intellectual cachet and all."

"It's what you do when you know your art is bad. Is explicitness supposed to be a substitute for depth? I don't know."

"Kidding themselves."

"Totally."

"Abstract nonsense."

"Yep."

Underfoot the swaying bridge, sluggish green water. The bramble and dark mud of the riverbanks, the golden grass. Oliver's ruddy cheeks and the scent of his loose-leaf tobacco. Almost unbearably tender, the look in his eyes.

Not for the first time, Seamus imagined Oliver's face going grotesque with pain. Imagined the slant of his mouth in suffering, beautiful in the way of those early, crude carvings of Christ, the suffering and the beauty one and the same. Seamus turned away from Oliver, took in the industrial park and its long tusks of steam. The cars on the bridge near the library ambling along.

"It's nice we got out early, though," Oliver said.

Seamus nodded, though for him the timing was kind of annoying. Seminar could go until six or end at four. The variability prevented him from working on seminar days. It would have been too embarrassing trying to explain to the shift lead why he needed the flexibility on his start time, so he just kept the day free. Yet now, with class lasting barely an hour, he had almost the whole afternoon free.

"Nice is a word for it. If you don't work for a living."

Oliver laughed.

"What's so funny?"

"Just the way you say that. Work for a living. It's almost pretentious. Weren't you just skewering fake piety?"

"It's fake piety to support yourself?" Seamus asked, somewhere between irony and earnestness. Oliver just laughed again. "What's so fucking funny about it? Not all of us have money. Or parents. Some of us really do have to support ourselves."

"The unshackled rage of the working-class white male, how terrifying," Oliver said. He was really cracking up now, and Seamus felt a hard knot at the base of his throat. He wanted to shove Oliver into the river.
Praise for The Late Americans:

The Late Americans is Brandon Taylor’s best book so far. . . . For all their disagreements and misunderstandings and incompatibilities, [his characters are] all attempting to make peace with the cosmic bêtise of existence, to figure out how to live without compromising everything they value. It’s beautiful and wrenching to watch them try.” —Charles Arrowsmith, Boston Globe

“Erudite, intimate, hilarious, poignant . . . A gorgeously written novel of youth’s promise, of the quest to find one’s tribe and one’s calling.” —Leigh Haber, Oprah Daily

“This book assures and deepens Taylor’s position as one of the most accomplished, important novelists of his generation. He is undoubtedly on to something expansively new in his sense of what the contemporary novel can do.” —The Guardian

“Brandon Taylor's third book is the most dazzling example of his sharp pen and keen observations of human nature yet. . . . Taylor develops his characters so precisely, they feel like close friends: recognizable, sometimes infuriating, and always worth following to the book's last page.” Harper's Bazaar

“Exquisitely sensitive . . . with flashes of beauty.” —The New York Times

“The best writer on work in America today.”  Garth Greenwell

“With The Late Americans, Taylor has at once deepened and moved beyond the traditional campus novel. . . . Taylor’s empathy for his characters is bone-deep. . . . [A] bruising, brilliant second novel.”  —Washington Post Book World

“Amid financial concerns, artistic frustrations, and the judgments, jealousies, and posturing of their classmates, [Taylor’s] characters find solace in moments of shared tenderness. . . . His multifaceted portrayals show each of them to be as innocent and as flawed as any human.” The New Yorker

“Startlingly original.” —Liesl Schillinger, Wall Street Journal

“A delicious read.” —Brittany Luse, NPR

“One of the best contemporary writers on young queer creatives, Taylor continues the theme with this offering about a group of Iowa City friends. . . . Over a year of creative and personal revolution, they go through partnerships, daddy issues, and complicated friendships — all simultaneously chaotic, messy, and loving.” —Rolling Stone
 
“Compelling in its determination to capture the tenderness of aspiring artists, their desperate ambition and crushing uncertainty. . . . The Late Americans is remarkable. If you’re going to write about art, the folly of pursuing it and the irrefutable power of it, you should probably do it well. Taylor does it truthfully and beautifully.” —Financial Times

“A beautiful writer. His tautly constructed sentences are as concrete and vivid as the poems that the hapless Seamus adores.” 
Associated Press
 
The Late Americans is a novel of finish and style. It sees fiction not as serving identity but as exploring issues of moral concern. It’s hot after blessing, beauty, and meaning even while it often finds the world hurtful, ugly, and empty. . . . One of Taylor’s many gifts is his ability to move from [an] intimate perspective to a wider angle, showing how his characters all long, in one way or another, for meaning in a world that seems leached of it. . . . There remains in Brandon Taylor’s work the ghost of belief: the hope, often thwarted but still existent, that coldness might become warmth, that lives might be meaningful, that indifference might turn into a deeper, more beautiful kind of being seen.” —Commonweal Magazine

The Late Americans chronicles these young people’s brawl for truth and understanding in their interpersonal relationships . . . and manages to turn the chaos into something beautiful. . . . We sit, enthralled by Taylor’s prose and immersed in his character’s stories, witnesses to the complexity of truth and its resistance against objectivity.”  —Brooklyn Rail

“I love this book. It’s such a brilliant evocation of life. And Brandon Taylor is a great novelist.” —Bill Goldstein, NBC-TV

The Late Americans is a compelling, clever, funny, structurally audacious book of relentless psychological acuity, emotional resonance and technical control, and reconfirms Brandon Taylor as one of the preeminent American authors of his generation.” —Colin Barrett, Hazlitt

“Taylor’s elegant works of fiction . . . keep a tight focus on their characters, like a magnifying glass. . . . Taylor’s vision is unsparing, but never bleak. . . . He has a Chekhovian generosity that enables him to convey character with something like tenderness.” —Harper's Magazine

“Taylor deftly explores the myth of youth's unbound possibilities as it plays out in the face of constraints of time, space, class and wealth disparities. . . . The characters constantly strive to become better versions of themselves by embracing an ideal of passionate empathy that goes beyond pity or kindness, by striving to plumb the dark, even unspeakable parts of themselves.” —Thúy Đinh, NPR

“Deftly directed by Taylor, characters swim in and out of the story, exploring a lived-in symphony of questions about what it means to make art, love truthfully, and live morally. . . . [His] novels are so big—they contain the world.” —Esquire

“[An] intense, finely tuned book. Taylor is an inimitable talent.”Elle

“Provocative . . . Through Taylor’s signature intimacy, we see casual emotional devastation, prickly social interactions, and wry humor with keen clarity.” —Vulture

“Brandon Taylor takes a new spin and reimagines the classic friend getaway with queer characters. . . . Contemporary readers will love this provocative but intimate novel about friendships, ambition, and community.” Cosmopolitan

“Finely rendered.” —Vanity Fair

“The writing is devilishly clever, fun and salacious. . . . The Late Americans takes you on a wondrous ride through the doldrums and raptures of youth.”  —Frieze (Editor’s Pick)

“Taylor’s most accomplished book, a panorama of youth in the era of late capitalism with a heightened awareness of Black and queer identity politics.” —The Guardian

“The tender, elegant prose combines with sound structural unity to make [The Late Americans] work.” —The Spectator

“One of the most exciting and uncompromising voices in literature.” —The Evening Standard

“Taylor sanctifies the earthly via his characters—not by elevating them but by revealing them as painfully human. . . . [A] productive tension between freedom and restriction gleams in Taylor’s prose too. The language’s force accumulates like prayer beads. In his hands, even the distance between two lovers flows thick as a rolling channel.” —Jorge Cotte, Bomb

“A stunning work of fiction, with characters that are unforgettable and writing that is frequently breathtaking. I can't shout its praises enough.”David Vogel, Buzzfeed
 
“Taylor is fast emerging as one of America’s most shrewdest cultural voices. . . . In his fiction, he circles the terrain of the smart, lonely American male seeking intimacy and value in a materialistic, godless universe, in sentences so lissom and exacting you want to reach out and stroke them.” —Claire Allfree, The Telegraph

“Elegant and restrained.”Vox

“Powerfully disconcerting [and] smart.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR

“Something quite rare in contemporary literature—a novel that takes its time and empowers its characters to become actual people.” Hero

“I love the way Taylor captures the charged spaces that exist between friends and lovers. . . .  I also appreciated the way that the constellated form of the novel pushed subtly against the logic of scarcity that dominates the lives of its characters. No matter how alone they feel, we encounter them embedded in one another’s stories.” —Jewish Currents

“A virtuosic performance of social and psychological realism fraught with the anxieties of our current post-postmodern moment. . . . The book’s third-person narration and large cast give it both a symphonic and discordant quality that calls to mind George Eliot’s Middlemarch . . . A work of art that concerns itself with works of art.” Washington Independent Review of Books

“One of the most compelling looks at the ways class impacts creativity.”ArtNews

“Taylor has a tight grasp on the millennial psyche, the cruel, slippery and tender nature of human interaction, and the fragility of modern existence. . . . The novel clamps its teeth into the absurdity of contemporary discourse surrounding class, race, sexuality and art.” —iNews 

“Anyone who's ever struggled to find themselves while so many around them are doing the same (hello, everyone's early 20s) will find kinship in this novel.” Good Housekeeping
 
“To read The Late Americans is an intensely intimate experience. . . . Despite how abject some of its characters are, how bad they accidentally hurt each other and how purposefully they sometimes do it, The Late Americans is an oddly comforting novel. If its characters are straining to be seen, Taylor sees them. The net of connected characters and moments is the whole point of the novel. . . . Some are about to fail, some are about to become very rich. Some are never going to see each other again. But for now they are together, burning and brilliant.” —Margot Lee, Zyzzyva

The Late Americans weaves throughout perspectives of its cast of characters, creating a story you'll be thinking about long after you put it down.” Town & Country

“A searing, layered examination of found family, gender, queerness, class, and artistry, The Late Americans is the perfect read for all the messy gay twenty-somethings in your life.” —Them

“A campus novel filled with the complex realities of our time: racism, sexism, 21st century capitalism and classism. . . .  You can’t ask for more from a novel.” Washington Blade

“Taylor has established himself as one of contemporary American fiction’s leading lights . . . Taylor’s incisive and arresting voice make the [novel's] premise feel new.” —AskMen

“[An] insightful and razor-sharp portrait of the interconnected lives of a cohort of writers, dancers, and thinkers living in the contemporary American Midwest. . . . A splendidly wrought and emotionally engrossing novel [that] continues to cement Brandon Taylor as a standout literary voice.” Shelf Awareness

“Taylor’s characters come to life . . . through scenes cut with razor-sharp observations. . . . With verve and wit, Taylor pulls off something like Sally Rooney for the Midwest.” Publishers Weekly

“Taylor writes feelings and physical interactions with a kind of sixth sense, creating scenes readers will visualize with ease. At the beginning and ending of things and in confronting gradations of sex, power, and class, ambivalence pervades. Lovers of character studies and fine writing will enjoy getting lost in this.” Booklist

“I loved The Late Americans and its funny, merciless, brilliant portrayal of the beauty and pointlessness of art, and the absurdity and horror—and occasional transcendence—of being a person. Magnificent.” —Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Romantic Comedy and Prep

“Brandon Taylor writes with such precision and perception that reading his work is an immersive experience: you inhabit his characters, you share their nerve endings. The Late Americans is a brilliant and electrifying symphony of a novel. I loved it.”  —Lily King, author of Writers & Lovers and Euphoria

“Brandon Taylor has both a classic sensibility, expansive and elegant, and a razor-sharp ability to speak to the contemporary moment. The Late Americans is a full expression of his singular talent.” —Emma Cline, author of The Girls

The Late Americans is a dizzying plunge into the lives of young people making art in America in the era of survival capitalism, grappling over the big questions like they’re fighting over a gun. Deep within their ambitions, their pettiness and lust, is the meaning and even grandeur they seek—and whether or not his characters ever find it, Brandon Taylor has. A bravura performance on the edge of a knife.” —Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

“Taylor is a sharp chronicler of the body. In The Late Americans, the body is an instrument and an archive, vulnerable to the complicated violence of pleasure and work.” —Raven Leilani, author of Luster
 
“Brandon Taylor’s characters in The Late Americans are obsessed with art, money, integrity, success, survival—and with one another. They can be deliciously catty, but they’re also desperate to be loved. And repulsed by that desperation. They are, in a word, human. Taylor realizes each character so fully, with such enviable—and often hilarious—granularity, that it's hard not to feel like I know these people, that I could pick up my phone right now and call any of them. It’s the best kind of magic, this book. I’m already rereading it.” —Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf and Pilgrim Bell

“Tender and unflinching . . . written with bristling clarity, wicked wit and audacious assuredness. . . . A wonderful book.”  —Colin Barrett, author of Homesickness

“Masterly [and] absorbing.” Times Literary Supplement

“Brandon Taylor’s authorial voice is strong, and the grand design of his novel is carefully orchestrated. . . . Taylor is adept at illuminating with grace how political the personal actually is. . . . The novel suggests a deep understanding of human nature and the corporeal reality of physical bodies sometimes existing in harmony, sometimes at war with interior selves.” The Irish Times
© Haolun Xu
Brandon Taylor is the author of the novels The Late Americans and Real Life, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and a Science + Literature Selected Title by the National Book Foundation. His collection Filthy Animals, a national bestseller, was awarded The Story Prize and shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. He is the 2022-2023 Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. View titles by Brandon Taylor
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About

INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER

NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE YEAR BY VOGUE, ELLE, OPRAH DAILY, THE WASHINGTON POST, BUZZFEED AND VULTURE


“Erudite, intimate, hilarious, poignant . . . A gorgeously written novel of youth’s promise, of the quest to find one’s tribe and one’s calling.” —Leigh Haber, Oprah Daily

The Booker Prize finalist and widely acclaimed author of Real Life and Filthy Animals returns with a deeply involving new novel of young men and women at a crossroads


In the shared and private spaces of Iowa City, a loose circle of lovers and friends encounter, confront, and provoke one another in a volatile year of self-discovery. Among them are Seamus, a frustrated young poet; Ivan, a dancer turned aspiring banker who dabbles in amateur pornography; Fatima, whose independence and work ethic complicate her relationships with friends and a trusted mentor; and Noah, who “didn’t seek sex out so much as it came up to him like an anxious dog in need of affection.” These four are buffeted by a cast of artists, landlords, meatpacking workers, and mathematicians who populate the cafes, classrooms, and food-service kitchens of the city, sometimes to violent and electrifying consequence. Finally, as each prepares for an uncertain future, the group heads to a cabin to bid goodbye to their former lives—a moment of reckoning that leaves each of them irrevocably altered.

A novel of friendship and chosen family, The Late Americans asks fresh questions about love and sex, ambition and precarity, and about how human beings can bruise one another while trying to find themselves. It is Brandon Taylor’s richest and most involving work of fiction to date, confirming his position as one of our most perceptive chroniclers of contemporary life.

Excerpt

1.

The Late Americans

In seminar, grad students on plastic folding chairs: seven women, two men. Naive enough to believe in poetry's transformative force, but cynical enough in their darker moments to consider poetry a pseudo-spiritual calling, something akin to the affliction of televangelists.

Outside, the last blue day in October. Snow in the forecast.

They discuss "Andromeda and Perseus," a poem submitted by Beth, who has reversed the title of the Titian painting in order to center Andromeda's suffering rather than the heroics of Perseus-rapist, killer, destroyer of women.

"The taking is as brutal as the captivity," says this squat girl from Montana.

The poem spans fifteen single-spaced pages, and contains, among other things, a graphic description of period sex in which menstrual blood congeals on a gray comforter. This is designated "the Gorgon's mark," in relation to "the iron stain" left on Medusa's robes following her decapitation by Perseus.

Around they go, taking in the poem's allusive system of images and its narrative density, the emotional heat of its subject matter, its increasing cultural salience re: women, re: trauma, re: bodies, re: life at the end of the world.

"I love the gestural improvisation of it all-so very Joan Mitchell," says Helen, who had once been some kind of Mormon child bride out in a suburb of Denver, and who now lives above a bar in downtown Iowa City, writing poems about dying children and pubic lice.

"I mean, like, so sharp, diamond sharp. Could cut a bitch, you know? God." Noli, nineteen, child prodigy. Disappointing her parents. Poetry instead of, what, medical school, curing cancer?

"Totally. So raw, though. So visceral."

"And heightened-" Mika, twenty-eight, Stevie Nicks impersonator in her bangles and boots and gauzy drapery.

"-charged-up, high-voltage shit-" Noli again, so talkative today. So chatty.

"Voice, voice, voice." Here, Linda, black from Tulsa. Braids. Glossy, perfect skin. She went to UT Austin, did a PhD in physics at MIT. Finished. Or dropped out. Either way, here in Iowa with the rest of them. In some kind of tension with Noli, also black, also brilliant. Not sisters. High-intensity mutual exclusion.

"Finally, something real," Noli says. Linda's gaze sharpens. "But totally rigorous. Like, not fake slam-poet shit. Just voice."

"I want this in my veins. Hard," Helen says.

The effluvia of praise washes over Beth, who receives their compliments with a placid glow. The instructor, never quite in contention for the Pulitzer but never quite out of it either, nods slowly as he presides over them like a fucking youth minister.

Or so Seamus imagined as he drowsed in half focus. Then, coming back to himself, to the room, becoming present, he really looked. Beth's lips were in a thin line, her eyebrows in deep grooves. Miserable despite the praise, when praise seemed so much the point of the poems they wrote. To be clapped on the back. Celebrated. Turned into modern saints and martyrs.

Curiouser and curiouser, thought Seamus, that a person, presented with what they wanted most, could seem so miserable about it.

Along the upper wall of the seminar room, trapezoidal panes of glass. The room was all sleek, dark-wood beams and soaring windows, barnlike in its effect. Early afternoon sunshine pooling on the scuffed floors. Locked cases of books by writing program alumni who had gone on to midlist glory.

The patina of prestige, so much like the corroded wax on the floorboards, had seen better days. That was the thing about prestige, though-the older and more moth eaten, the more valuable. There was a certain kind of poet for whom prestige was the point. The poetry was the prestige, and if no one saw you writing a poem, being a poet, then you were not a poet. For these poets, seminar was the zenith of their lives as artists. Never again would they have, on a weekly basis, such attention channeled upon their performance of poetry.

"This poem really troubles notions of reliability. Because, like, who is more an authority on an experience than the person doing the experiencing, right? But, like, the inconsistencies in the telling really make you wonder if the truth is really a palimpsest of falsehoods, and-" Helen again, though now interrupted by Garza, half Tunisian, half Quebecois, but raised in Toronto and Oakland.

"Totally. In this very Vicu–a way, like in Spit Temple-"

"I prefer Moraga's take on personal history, and how we bridge gaps in the archive with-" Noreen, West Virginian with a faint lilt that might have been faked-it was curiously absent when she was drunk-cutting across Garza's response.

"Hartman tells us that archives are constructed in the manner of-" Noli, cutting in, too.

These sundry interruptions and redactions, all the skirmishes and misdirection. Like a dog finally catching its tail and chewing it down to the gristle. Seamus looked to his right at Oliver, who was listening intently with a pleased, receptive expression. How, Seamus wondered, could he take this all so seriously, as they wore on talking about the violence of the archive and Cherr’e Moraga and Cecilia Vicu–a, whose work was not even remotely on point for the poem at hand. This wasn't poetry. This was the aping of poetry in pursuit of validation. This was another kind of poetry theatric: If you just said enough names, people assumed you knew what you were talking about and tended to attribute the vagueness of the reference to their own ignorance. But Seamus had read both Moraga and Vicu–a. He had read the critical essays of Saidiya Hartman-avant the MacArthur, bien sžr-and the critical essays in response to Hartman's work. He knew America to be a war of contradicting archives. Different histories with their own particular turbulences.

It would have been easier for these poets to say that sometimes you lied and sometimes you were mistaken and sometimes the truth changed on you in the course of telling. That sometimes trauma reconfigured your relationship both to the truth and to the very apparatus of telling. But no, they went on signifying. Tethering their bad ideas to recognized names and hoping someone would call them smart, call them sharp, call them radical and right, call them a poet and a thinker and a mind, even if they were just children.

"And the part about the blood on the sheet! I mean!" Noli said. "Stunning. Irrefutable."

Seamus flipped back through the poem until he got to the line about the Gorgon's mark, which had surprised him in its venereal vividness. It had the vibe of a detail you might find in a good poem. As if out of O'Hara by way of Kooser.

But reading back over the line, Seamus felt tickled. What kind of person, what kind of poetic organizing intelligence, upon seeing menstrual blood on a bedsheet after not-great sex, thought of Medusa's decapitation? Too funny. Not the blood itself, but the pretentious linkage. There was the duress. The transubstantiation of the real thing into something so freighted with meaning that it collapsed in on itself. The whole poem became a joke. This variety of poem often surfaced in seminar: personal history transmuted into a system of vague gestures toward greater works that failed to register genuine understanding of or real feeling for those works. Self-deceptions disguised as confession.

Seamus giggled to himself.

The instructor, low troll of a man with a head of high white hair, looked at him. Paused.

"Something to add, Seamus?" Everyone looked at him then. This was, he knew, a way of marshaling attention to himself. It was the only charismatic trait he possessed, but he had no control over it. True, he could have tried harder. This too was a performance, but he considered it morally acceptable because he knew it was a performance. He didn't pretend it was poetry.

He shuffled the papers a moment, but then, breaking out into a little giggle, he said, "So, like, her pussy is a Gorgon head? Is that like a Trump thing?"

A little magic trick: silence, the rolling blackout of their anger. Then, gradually, the lights going back on. Annoyance. Irritation.

Ingrid Lundstrom said, "I think it's more saying that we live in a world that has turned women's bodies into objects of revulsion and pain-and, how our pleasure is not our own? I think we need to honor that."

Ingrid had been in his class at Brown. In their sophomore year, she got published in The New Yorker with a nakedly autobiographical poem about her father's conversion to evangelical Christianity and his subsequent self-immolation. She was the kind of poet whose work was chiefly about herself, as if all that had transpired in the existence of humankind was no more consequential than the slightly nervy account of her first use of a tampon. He thought her poems craven and beautiful and utterly dishonest.

"Yes, but, like, her cooter is full of Medusa blood. Am I being obtuse? Am I missing the allusion?"

Oliver tried to intercede, laughing. "Negative capability, right?" he said.

The instructor said, "We are here to witness the poem."

Seamus snorted. Ingrid replied dryly, "I just think it's important to remember that the speaker of the poem is clearly carrying a legacy of violence, and this ambivalence toward desire/body/love/want is valid."

Witness and legacy of violence and valid: such terms made poetry seminar feel less like a rigorous intellectual and creative exercise and more like a tribunal for war crimes. Seamus hated it very much-not because he believed that trauma was fake, but because he didn't think it necessarily had anything to do with poetry.

"Are you a poet or a caseworker?" Seamus asked.

"What the fuck did you just say to me?"

Such withering piety, such righteous fury. He delighted in Ingrid's façade cracking.

"It's not a gendered term-unless you think it is. Now that would be sexist."

Ingrid stood and gave Seamus a bored, dismissive glance. Then she went to the sink in the back of the room to fill an electric kettle.

"You're being a child," Helen said, sotto voce.

Seamus made a show of screwing up his face and rubbing his eyes. He pouted.

"We are getting far afield here," the instructor said. He was looking straight up into the exposed beams, as though waiting for a signal from the divine.

"They're the ones calling names. My comments were textual," Seamus said. Through all of this, Beth stared into her notebook and scribbled furiously until she had soaked the corner of a page black with ink. Seamus leaned forward, elbows on his knees, watching her wrist wrench back and forth.

"Inappropriate."

"Asshole."

Such a chorus of opprobrium. Like the witches in Macbeth, but less fun. Less ridiculous glee.

"I'm triggered by your insults," Seamus said. "They remind me of my torturous childhood. Please stop."

Ingrid set the kettle on its stand and flicked the switch. It screeched as it came to life.

"The poem," the instructor said. "The poem is everything."

"Maybe you should take a breather, champ," Oliver said. He brought his hand to the back of Seamus's neck.

"You betcha, pal," Seamus said. He showed his teeth. Oliver just shook his head. But Seamus couldn't stop. He tasted the glut of their attention. The sweet iron tang of it. He was thirsty for more. The looks on their faces, the anger, the annoyance. So sure of themselves. Of their positions.

"I think we could all do with some fresh air," the instructor said. "Maybe we table for this week. You are free to go."

Oh, no fun. No fun at all. How unfair. Seamus grunted as he stood. Oliver followed. The rest of them remained in place, composed in various tableaux of waiting. Whispering to one another, exchanging notebooks and pointed looks. Seamus wondered if he and Oliver alone were being dismissed like disruptive children, while the others were all waiting for a second, secret seminar-the real class-to begin. He stood there a few seconds more, but then felt Oliver's hand at the crook of his arm, pulling at him.

Well, fine, he thought. All right.

"Enjoy your yoga," Seamus called over his shoulder, and Noli replied, "Enjoy your bowel impaction."


Them on the bridge, Seamus and Oliver.

Seamus hated, but couldn't resist, the compulsion to relive the harrowing of seminar. Same story, every week, really: so and so said this, so and so said that, can you believe? A silly question. Belief had died with the rise of the contemporary, the instant. Belief being one of those hangovers from some other era, a mere shading of history. But then again, they were fags for belief. They were poets, after all.

"I hate when people title their poems after paintings. Ekphrasis is so dead, man. Bleak and needy shit."

"Yeah, I guess that's right. Fatuous intellectual cachet and all."

"It's what you do when you know your art is bad. Is explicitness supposed to be a substitute for depth? I don't know."

"Kidding themselves."

"Totally."

"Abstract nonsense."

"Yep."

Underfoot the swaying bridge, sluggish green water. The bramble and dark mud of the riverbanks, the golden grass. Oliver's ruddy cheeks and the scent of his loose-leaf tobacco. Almost unbearably tender, the look in his eyes.

Not for the first time, Seamus imagined Oliver's face going grotesque with pain. Imagined the slant of his mouth in suffering, beautiful in the way of those early, crude carvings of Christ, the suffering and the beauty one and the same. Seamus turned away from Oliver, took in the industrial park and its long tusks of steam. The cars on the bridge near the library ambling along.

"It's nice we got out early, though," Oliver said.

Seamus nodded, though for him the timing was kind of annoying. Seminar could go until six or end at four. The variability prevented him from working on seminar days. It would have been too embarrassing trying to explain to the shift lead why he needed the flexibility on his start time, so he just kept the day free. Yet now, with class lasting barely an hour, he had almost the whole afternoon free.

"Nice is a word for it. If you don't work for a living."

Oliver laughed.

"What's so funny?"

"Just the way you say that. Work for a living. It's almost pretentious. Weren't you just skewering fake piety?"

"It's fake piety to support yourself?" Seamus asked, somewhere between irony and earnestness. Oliver just laughed again. "What's so fucking funny about it? Not all of us have money. Or parents. Some of us really do have to support ourselves."

"The unshackled rage of the working-class white male, how terrifying," Oliver said. He was really cracking up now, and Seamus felt a hard knot at the base of his throat. He wanted to shove Oliver into the river.

Praise

Praise for The Late Americans:

The Late Americans is Brandon Taylor’s best book so far. . . . For all their disagreements and misunderstandings and incompatibilities, [his characters are] all attempting to make peace with the cosmic bêtise of existence, to figure out how to live without compromising everything they value. It’s beautiful and wrenching to watch them try.” —Charles Arrowsmith, Boston Globe

“Erudite, intimate, hilarious, poignant . . . A gorgeously written novel of youth’s promise, of the quest to find one’s tribe and one’s calling.” —Leigh Haber, Oprah Daily

“This book assures and deepens Taylor’s position as one of the most accomplished, important novelists of his generation. He is undoubtedly on to something expansively new in his sense of what the contemporary novel can do.” —The Guardian

“Brandon Taylor's third book is the most dazzling example of his sharp pen and keen observations of human nature yet. . . . Taylor develops his characters so precisely, they feel like close friends: recognizable, sometimes infuriating, and always worth following to the book's last page.” Harper's Bazaar

“Exquisitely sensitive . . . with flashes of beauty.” —The New York Times

“The best writer on work in America today.”  Garth Greenwell

“With The Late Americans, Taylor has at once deepened and moved beyond the traditional campus novel. . . . Taylor’s empathy for his characters is bone-deep. . . . [A] bruising, brilliant second novel.”  —Washington Post Book World

“Amid financial concerns, artistic frustrations, and the judgments, jealousies, and posturing of their classmates, [Taylor’s] characters find solace in moments of shared tenderness. . . . His multifaceted portrayals show each of them to be as innocent and as flawed as any human.” The New Yorker

“Startlingly original.” —Liesl Schillinger, Wall Street Journal

“A delicious read.” —Brittany Luse, NPR

“One of the best contemporary writers on young queer creatives, Taylor continues the theme with this offering about a group of Iowa City friends. . . . Over a year of creative and personal revolution, they go through partnerships, daddy issues, and complicated friendships — all simultaneously chaotic, messy, and loving.” —Rolling Stone
 
“Compelling in its determination to capture the tenderness of aspiring artists, their desperate ambition and crushing uncertainty. . . . The Late Americans is remarkable. If you’re going to write about art, the folly of pursuing it and the irrefutable power of it, you should probably do it well. Taylor does it truthfully and beautifully.” —Financial Times

“A beautiful writer. His tautly constructed sentences are as concrete and vivid as the poems that the hapless Seamus adores.” 
Associated Press
 
The Late Americans is a novel of finish and style. It sees fiction not as serving identity but as exploring issues of moral concern. It’s hot after blessing, beauty, and meaning even while it often finds the world hurtful, ugly, and empty. . . . One of Taylor’s many gifts is his ability to move from [an] intimate perspective to a wider angle, showing how his characters all long, in one way or another, for meaning in a world that seems leached of it. . . . There remains in Brandon Taylor’s work the ghost of belief: the hope, often thwarted but still existent, that coldness might become warmth, that lives might be meaningful, that indifference might turn into a deeper, more beautiful kind of being seen.” —Commonweal Magazine

The Late Americans chronicles these young people’s brawl for truth and understanding in their interpersonal relationships . . . and manages to turn the chaos into something beautiful. . . . We sit, enthralled by Taylor’s prose and immersed in his character’s stories, witnesses to the complexity of truth and its resistance against objectivity.”  —Brooklyn Rail

“I love this book. It’s such a brilliant evocation of life. And Brandon Taylor is a great novelist.” —Bill Goldstein, NBC-TV

The Late Americans is a compelling, clever, funny, structurally audacious book of relentless psychological acuity, emotional resonance and technical control, and reconfirms Brandon Taylor as one of the preeminent American authors of his generation.” —Colin Barrett, Hazlitt

“Taylor’s elegant works of fiction . . . keep a tight focus on their characters, like a magnifying glass. . . . Taylor’s vision is unsparing, but never bleak. . . . He has a Chekhovian generosity that enables him to convey character with something like tenderness.” —Harper's Magazine

“Taylor deftly explores the myth of youth's unbound possibilities as it plays out in the face of constraints of time, space, class and wealth disparities. . . . The characters constantly strive to become better versions of themselves by embracing an ideal of passionate empathy that goes beyond pity or kindness, by striving to plumb the dark, even unspeakable parts of themselves.” —Thúy Đinh, NPR

“Deftly directed by Taylor, characters swim in and out of the story, exploring a lived-in symphony of questions about what it means to make art, love truthfully, and live morally. . . . [His] novels are so big—they contain the world.” —Esquire

“[An] intense, finely tuned book. Taylor is an inimitable talent.”Elle

“Provocative . . . Through Taylor’s signature intimacy, we see casual emotional devastation, prickly social interactions, and wry humor with keen clarity.” —Vulture

“Brandon Taylor takes a new spin and reimagines the classic friend getaway with queer characters. . . . Contemporary readers will love this provocative but intimate novel about friendships, ambition, and community.” Cosmopolitan

“Finely rendered.” —Vanity Fair

“The writing is devilishly clever, fun and salacious. . . . The Late Americans takes you on a wondrous ride through the doldrums and raptures of youth.”  —Frieze (Editor’s Pick)

“Taylor’s most accomplished book, a panorama of youth in the era of late capitalism with a heightened awareness of Black and queer identity politics.” —The Guardian

“The tender, elegant prose combines with sound structural unity to make [The Late Americans] work.” —The Spectator

“One of the most exciting and uncompromising voices in literature.” —The Evening Standard

“Taylor sanctifies the earthly via his characters—not by elevating them but by revealing them as painfully human. . . . [A] productive tension between freedom and restriction gleams in Taylor’s prose too. The language’s force accumulates like prayer beads. In his hands, even the distance between two lovers flows thick as a rolling channel.” —Jorge Cotte, Bomb

“A stunning work of fiction, with characters that are unforgettable and writing that is frequently breathtaking. I can't shout its praises enough.”David Vogel, Buzzfeed
 
“Taylor is fast emerging as one of America’s most shrewdest cultural voices. . . . In his fiction, he circles the terrain of the smart, lonely American male seeking intimacy and value in a materialistic, godless universe, in sentences so lissom and exacting you want to reach out and stroke them.” —Claire Allfree, The Telegraph

“Elegant and restrained.”Vox

“Powerfully disconcerting [and] smart.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR

“Something quite rare in contemporary literature—a novel that takes its time and empowers its characters to become actual people.” Hero

“I love the way Taylor captures the charged spaces that exist between friends and lovers. . . .  I also appreciated the way that the constellated form of the novel pushed subtly against the logic of scarcity that dominates the lives of its characters. No matter how alone they feel, we encounter them embedded in one another’s stories.” —Jewish Currents

“A virtuosic performance of social and psychological realism fraught with the anxieties of our current post-postmodern moment. . . . The book’s third-person narration and large cast give it both a symphonic and discordant quality that calls to mind George Eliot’s Middlemarch . . . A work of art that concerns itself with works of art.” Washington Independent Review of Books

“One of the most compelling looks at the ways class impacts creativity.”ArtNews

“Taylor has a tight grasp on the millennial psyche, the cruel, slippery and tender nature of human interaction, and the fragility of modern existence. . . . The novel clamps its teeth into the absurdity of contemporary discourse surrounding class, race, sexuality and art.” —iNews 

“Anyone who's ever struggled to find themselves while so many around them are doing the same (hello, everyone's early 20s) will find kinship in this novel.” Good Housekeeping
 
“To read The Late Americans is an intensely intimate experience. . . . Despite how abject some of its characters are, how bad they accidentally hurt each other and how purposefully they sometimes do it, The Late Americans is an oddly comforting novel. If its characters are straining to be seen, Taylor sees them. The net of connected characters and moments is the whole point of the novel. . . . Some are about to fail, some are about to become very rich. Some are never going to see each other again. But for now they are together, burning and brilliant.” —Margot Lee, Zyzzyva

The Late Americans weaves throughout perspectives of its cast of characters, creating a story you'll be thinking about long after you put it down.” Town & Country

“A searing, layered examination of found family, gender, queerness, class, and artistry, The Late Americans is the perfect read for all the messy gay twenty-somethings in your life.” —Them

“A campus novel filled with the complex realities of our time: racism, sexism, 21st century capitalism and classism. . . .  You can’t ask for more from a novel.” Washington Blade

“Taylor has established himself as one of contemporary American fiction’s leading lights . . . Taylor’s incisive and arresting voice make the [novel's] premise feel new.” —AskMen

“[An] insightful and razor-sharp portrait of the interconnected lives of a cohort of writers, dancers, and thinkers living in the contemporary American Midwest. . . . A splendidly wrought and emotionally engrossing novel [that] continues to cement Brandon Taylor as a standout literary voice.” Shelf Awareness

“Taylor’s characters come to life . . . through scenes cut with razor-sharp observations. . . . With verve and wit, Taylor pulls off something like Sally Rooney for the Midwest.” Publishers Weekly

“Taylor writes feelings and physical interactions with a kind of sixth sense, creating scenes readers will visualize with ease. At the beginning and ending of things and in confronting gradations of sex, power, and class, ambivalence pervades. Lovers of character studies and fine writing will enjoy getting lost in this.” Booklist

“I loved The Late Americans and its funny, merciless, brilliant portrayal of the beauty and pointlessness of art, and the absurdity and horror—and occasional transcendence—of being a person. Magnificent.” —Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Romantic Comedy and Prep

“Brandon Taylor writes with such precision and perception that reading his work is an immersive experience: you inhabit his characters, you share their nerve endings. The Late Americans is a brilliant and electrifying symphony of a novel. I loved it.”  —Lily King, author of Writers & Lovers and Euphoria

“Brandon Taylor has both a classic sensibility, expansive and elegant, and a razor-sharp ability to speak to the contemporary moment. The Late Americans is a full expression of his singular talent.” —Emma Cline, author of The Girls

The Late Americans is a dizzying plunge into the lives of young people making art in America in the era of survival capitalism, grappling over the big questions like they’re fighting over a gun. Deep within their ambitions, their pettiness and lust, is the meaning and even grandeur they seek—and whether or not his characters ever find it, Brandon Taylor has. A bravura performance on the edge of a knife.” —Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

“Taylor is a sharp chronicler of the body. In The Late Americans, the body is an instrument and an archive, vulnerable to the complicated violence of pleasure and work.” —Raven Leilani, author of Luster
 
“Brandon Taylor’s characters in The Late Americans are obsessed with art, money, integrity, success, survival—and with one another. They can be deliciously catty, but they’re also desperate to be loved. And repulsed by that desperation. They are, in a word, human. Taylor realizes each character so fully, with such enviable—and often hilarious—granularity, that it's hard not to feel like I know these people, that I could pick up my phone right now and call any of them. It’s the best kind of magic, this book. I’m already rereading it.” —Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf and Pilgrim Bell

“Tender and unflinching . . . written with bristling clarity, wicked wit and audacious assuredness. . . . A wonderful book.”  —Colin Barrett, author of Homesickness

“Masterly [and] absorbing.” Times Literary Supplement

“Brandon Taylor’s authorial voice is strong, and the grand design of his novel is carefully orchestrated. . . . Taylor is adept at illuminating with grace how political the personal actually is. . . . The novel suggests a deep understanding of human nature and the corporeal reality of physical bodies sometimes existing in harmony, sometimes at war with interior selves.” The Irish Times

Author

© Haolun Xu
Brandon Taylor is the author of the novels The Late Americans and Real Life, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and a Science + Literature Selected Title by the National Book Foundation. His collection Filthy Animals, a national bestseller, was awarded The Story Prize and shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. He is the 2022-2023 Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. View titles by Brandon Taylor

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