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  • Writer's pictureLynne McConway

Book review: The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

Brandon Taylor's third novel is a timely insight into the difficulties of life for young people in America.

The front cover image of The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor on a Kindle
Book Review - The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor

With thanks to NetGalley for an ARC copy of the book for review.

The Late Americans follows a group of friends, lovers and acquaintances in Iowa City as they each reach a crossroads in their lives. I loved this book and the characters - Taylor draws people so accurately, they feel like real people, not just characters.

The majority of the characters are male. Seamus is a poet dating Oliver, Fyodor and Timo are partners from opposite ends of the economic divide. Goran has a rich family too: his partner Ivan does not. Noah is a dancer, as is Fatima (Ivan was too until a knee injury ended his dreams of a career in dance).

What unites all of them is their struggle to find happiness in modern America. Whilst most of them have people they could turn to, they come across as isolated and alone. Those not from family money have to deal with the pressure of living precarious lives with low-income jobs. The impact of racism and class is ever-present.

The first few chapters read like short stories with one reference to a character in the previous chapter the only hint there's any connection. Around the midpoint, characters begin to overlap as people meet at parties, hook up and connect in new ways. Considering how many characters we meet in the book, it's skilful how Taylor differentiates between each, giving the reader a clear sense of each character in just a few sentences. I thought of Sally Rooney and Ottessa Moshfegh and their writing - how they often write characters that are in some way isolated but manage to make the reader care about them.

The Late Americans is published in July and I really would recommend it as an excellent, engrossing read.


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