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Book review: ‘Filthy Animals’

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A short story collection by Booker Prize-shortlisted author, Brandon Taylor, Filthy Animals is a visceral depiction of everyday life.

Eyes scanning the title and fingers flicking through the pages, it was initially tempting to label Taylor’s work as glorified smut.

This judgement is overhasty and immature. The raw rhetoric and sensory prose defines the stories not by their intimacy, but through the characters’ perspectives of disconnect.

He always felt that he was arriving at the moment just as it was ending and everyone was moving on.

Filthy Animals, 1. Potluck, Page 5

Readers meet Lionel, the anxious proctor; Sophie, the domineering dancer, and Grace, the tumour-stricken young woman, amongst others.

Taylor brings to life these convincing characters, structurally separated by their stories but intertwined by their mutual themes. His observations on issues of race and relationships are conveyed seamlessly through the melancholic, uneasy feelings shared by them.

Each vignette channels the fear of being seen into an exquisite exploration of interiority in a contemporary setting.

This is achieved through a narrative of before and afters, focusing on seemingly unremarkable interactions.

Readers are introduced to Lionel in several stories after his suicide attempt, following his journey from wallflower to the curious subject of unexpected sexual attention.

On the other hand, ‘Mass’, the 7th story of the collection, centres on Sasha navigating family trauma before receiving biopsy results.

Brandon Taylor is a diverse and authentic voice, tackling the timeless topics of identity, mental health and sexuality.

The collection having been released July 22nd, the book is a prime pick-up for Pride Month.

Featured Image Credit: bookstr.com

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