Shakespeare and Company

Love in the Time of Creative-Writing Classes, with Brandon Taylor

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Episode notes

Our guest this week is Brandon Taylor, whose new book The Late Americans is a stark retooling of the campus novel for the 21st century. Taking a university town in Iowa as his canvas, Taylor depicts the lives of a loose group of friends and associates: Seamus, Fyodor, Ivan, Noah and Fatima—students of writing and dance—as time barrels them towards the end of their studies and the harsh realities of the so-called “real” world beyond. The novel lives in Taylor’s delicate and perceptive handling of the complicated interplay of money, class, race, art and sex—the bonds each of these can form between us and the divides they create. It is a book rich in ideas and reflections about contemporary life, contemporary America in particular, but these would all be for nothing without the meticulously wrought human comedy—in all its beauty and ugliness—at its core.

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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 was the 2022-2023 Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Adam Biles is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company. His latest novel, Beasts of England, a sequel of sorts to Animal Farm, is available now. Buy a signed copy here:

Listen to Alex Freiman’s latest EP, In The Beginning:

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