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Brandon Taylor’s ‘Filthy Animals’

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own” (John 15:19) reads the epigraph of Brandon Taylor’s first short-story collection. Lionel, the central character of the linked stories that form the backbone of the book, most often does not feel loved by the world. A Black queer man, he bears some resemblance to Wallace, the protagonist of Taylor’s 2020 Booker-shortlisted novel Real Life. Both men struggle to feel like they belong in the predominantly white milieu of academia.

A promising mathematician, Lionel has put his doctoral studies on hold following in-patient treatment following a suicide attempt. At a potluck dinner shortly after being discharged from the hospital after another close call, he meets Charles and Sophie, two dancers in an open relationship. Narrated in a close third person that shifts points of view, every other story (demarcated by one-word titles such as ‘Flesh’) involves the trio’s love triangle. Charles “was good-looking, in a way that seemed incongruous with ordinary life,” notes Lionel. “But he looked pained, too. All that body had cost him something.” …

Read the review online in the Irish Times

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