Filthy Animals (Hardcover)

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July 2021 Indie Next List

“These stories about human relationships range from those between lovers, friends, and family. How is it that Taylor can write so that we can see the interior crevices of these characters’ souls?”
— Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA






A group portrait of young adults enmeshed in desire and violence, a hotly charged, deeply satisfying new work of fiction from the author of Booker Prize finalist Real Life

In the series of linked stories at the heart of Filthy Animals, set among young creatives in the American Midwest, a young man treads delicate emotional waters as he navigates a series of sexually fraught encounters with two dancers in an open relationship, forcing him to weigh his vulnerabilities against his loneliness. In other stories, a young woman battles with the cancers draining her body and her family; menacing undercurrents among a group of teenagers explode in violence on a winter night; a little girl tears through a house like a tornado, driving her babysitter to the brink; and couples feel out the jagged edges of connection, comfort, and cruelty.

One of the breakout literary stars of 2020, Brandon Taylor has been hailed by Roxane Gay as “a writer who wields his craft in absolutely unforgettable ways.” With Filthy Animals he renews and expands on the promise made in Real Life, training his precise and unsentimental gaze on the tensions among friends and family, lovers and others. Psychologically taut and quietly devastating, Filthy Animals is a tender portrait of the fierce longing for intimacy, the lingering presence of pain, and the desire for love in a world that seems, more often than not, to withhold it.

About the Author

Brandon Taylor is the author of Real Life, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and of the national bestseller Filthy Animals, for which he won The Story Prize and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in fiction.

Praise For…

Praise for Filthy Animals:

“Sumptuous, melancholic portraits of characters overwhelmed. . . . Taylor has a talent for taking the dull hum of quotidian life and converting it into lyrics. . . . These intimacies, often cozy, pair splendidly with the uglier, more brutal elements to establish the book’s focus: the feral that lurks under the veneer. . . . A perfect companion piece for our nervous era.” —John Paul Brammer, New York Times Book Review

"Blistering." —Time Out

“Taylor is an important literary talent, not least for his ability to render the familiar into the shockingly unfamiliar. Full of beauty and harshness, the complex and startling stories of Filthy Animals will stick with readers long after the pages are read.” USA Today

“Luminous. . . . tap[s] into the peculiar, primal struggle of becoming who you are, and all the stories you have to tell yourself to get there.”Entertainment Weekly

“Explore[s] love, longing, and erotic desire between an interconnected group of creatives in the Midwest with tenderness and a gentle touch of dry humor . . . Fully delivering on the promise of Real Life, Filthy Animals firmly establishes Taylor as a brilliantly inventive storyteller, and one whose beautifully drawn characters have that rare ability to really make you care.”Vogue

“With Filthy Animals, [Taylor] applies his captivating, precise prose to the short form. These linked narratives thoughtfully examine a group of brainy Midwesterners dwelling deep inside their own heads, falling forward into one another's orbits.” O, The Oprah Magazine

Filthy Animals explores desire and human contact throughout, and while Taylor is a gifted descriptive writer, it’s the way he gets into his characters’ heads in the moment and in the aftermath—the confusion, the anger, the longing—that’s so hard to shake.” Vanity Fair

“Stunning. . . . Each story has a cinematic quality that is wholly earned. . . . Emotionally rich but also physically grounded. . . . Filthy Animals allows its characters to crawl out into the open and learn to love.” Los Angeles Times
“Brandon Taylor is as good as Sally Rooney on the micro-tensions and evasions of sexual desire, particularly among men. Almost every sentence he writes is a wonder.” The Times (UK)

“[These] stories feel almost like slices of life, but the everyday is heightened by the intensity of the characters’ longing, desire, anger and, above all else, passion. . . .  Taylor’s characters are beautiful messes, with their flaws, uncertainty, and mistakes making them all the more intriguing and real.” —Associated Press

"Taylor writes with incredible clarity and precision about the lives of people in small university towns, and how they are never as quaint or idyllic as those on the outside might imagine. . . . [his] writing. . . [creates] a refuge from the beastly terrors of marginalization—an untamed, unruly, ecstatic wilderness.” The Nation

“A probing short story collection that grapples with societal expectations and transgressions . . . a luminous exploration of identity, mental health, and sexuality.” —BuzzFeed

“Impressive . . . The cloistered world of student life offers Taylor the perfect canvas for the emotionally charged interplay between an insular cast. Most significantly though, these stories provide further evidence that intimacy is Taylor’s great subject.” Financial Times

“A joy to devour. Filthy Animals is unflinching in its grounded views of relationships and introspection. Taylor draws characters like he’s channeling Tom Stoppard, revealing them in their conversations, projecting them off the page like they’re standing beside you. These are not characters, they are people. I promise, you will find yourself somewhere in this book. And it will make you glad to have been chosen out of the world.”Little Village (Iowa)

Filthy Animals touches on the soft underbelly of human existence, showing the animalistic qualities we all share. How we all struggle to make meaningful connections, have a sense of dignity and deal with pain.”Seattle Times

“[These stories] all paint a picture of the simultaneous beauties and woes of life: a craving for intimacy, a secret desire for love masked by an indifference toward it, and the lasting effects of pain on present-day life.” Cosmopolitan

“Gorgeous.” —Barrie Hardymon, NPR

“The stories in this collection pulse with life. Neither cold nor detached, these stories are suffused with a warmth and humanity that recalled for me the uncanniness of Raymond Carver, the empathy of Alice Munro, and the meticulous irony of Chekhov.”Los Angeles Review of Books

“Resonant and poignant. . . . Taylor writes about relationships like a modern E. M. Forster, poking and prodding at the places where the connection is thinnest, and observing what happens when people madly attempt to shore it up.” —Vulture

“If Brandon Taylor isn’t on your radar, change that immediately. The Booker-nominated novelist is one of the most exciting young writers working today, and his new short story collection, Filthy Animals, is a powerful suckerpunch right in your Feelings. . . . Taylor has a gift for pulling readers into emotionally fraught territory and delivering them to the other side a little battered but better for it.” GQ

“With a stark and unwavering eye and a deep respect for his subjects, Taylor builds instantly recognizable tales of longing and desire.” Elle

“A landmark of millennial fiction, revealing an even clearer picture of the expansiveness of Taylor’s vision. . . . To describe what exactly Taylor is up to, we’ll be needing new terms.” Ploughshares
“Deeply engrossing. [Taylor’s] writing is singular.”Shondaland

Filthy Animals is a great collection for any diehard novel-readers who are nervous or otherwise skeptical to venture into short story territory. But if you’re not afraid of short stories, of a little violence, or of a lot of pain, this is still a collection to keep.” Southern Review of Books
“A magnificent, memorable reading experience.” Bay Area Reporter

“A queerfully quippy, honest, and heart-healing collection of stories from an erudite, undercover poet who writes with tremendous range and grace. . . . Brandon is an infallible star.” Paperback Paris

“Incisive and keenly observed, these stories confirm that Taylor is one of our finest chroniclers of intimacy and loneliness.”Esquire

Filthy Animals shows off Brandon Taylor’s powerful, insightful writing across a series of pieces that each tell their own tale but all tangle with the importance of connecting to others, even when it seems impossible.” —Town & Country

“To read Filthy Animals is to get a crash course in compassion. . . . A collection of stories that fearlessly lay bare the violence of human relationships while revealing the tenderness enmeshed in the brutality.”Cero

“Sharp and lingering, brutal and tender.” San Francisco Bay Times

“[A book of] major achievements . . . There are not many writers who represent such a wide range of identities in their fiction, nor are there many who weave them together so effortlessly.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“A stunning achievement . . . marked by a pervasive intelligence and empathy, a reminder that even in our despair and isolation, we are not wholly alone.” Refinery 29

“Full of beautiful writing.”BookPage

"There is a deep fear in the publishing world of the 'second book slump,' the idea that the follow-up to a blockbuster hit can never match the original’s genius. But Taylor has blown this myth to pieces with [Filthy Animals], with a cast of characters who allow him to explore the dark, vulnerable, and often ugly side of being human and searching for connection." The Daily Beast

“Not shying away from scenes of sexuality, violence, and belonging, Filthy Animals is sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year.”  —Bustle

Filthy Animals is a powerful look at what it means to strive to live a creative life, the cruelties of families and friends, and the painful realities of longing.”Alma

“One of the most exciting young writers working today . . . Taylor has a gift to draw readers into an emotionally desolate territory and bring them to the other side.” Texas News Today

“Empathetically written. . . . Taylor does an impressive job of pulling readers into the lives of complex and relatable people.” —Glossary Magazine

“This collection offers us contexts to think about how fraught longing is, how painful it can be, and why we still yearn for it.” —Lit Hub

“Taylor spins intimate narratives of fraught relationship dynamics and demonstrates a keen sensitivity to his characters’ fragile mental health. [His] language sparks with the tension of beauty and cruelty. . . . [He] has an impressive range, and his depictions of complex characters trapped in untenable situations are hard to forget.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Brandon Taylor writes with unsparing precision about the blurry territories of fear, longing, violence, and desire. An extraordinary book that rewards, and deserves, keen attention.” —Karen Russell
“The characters at the heart of this elegant storm of stories are ablaze with risk and tenderness. Their voices are bright and clear, the contours of their pains and desires sharp and urgent. A profoundly gifted writer.” —Laura Van Den Berg

“A dazzling showcase for Brandon Taylor’s formidable talents—his fierce intellect, his emotional and linguistic precision, his dry and unflinching humor. He is a writer of rare daring, his fiction a series of revelations.” —Katie Kitamura

“A writer who meets life with a rare combination of will, wonderment, temperament, and vitality.” —Yiyun Li

“Superb work by a writer of extraordinary psychological insight.” —Joseph O’Neill

Product Details
ISBN: 9780525538912
ISBN-10: 0525538917
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: June 22nd, 2021
Pages: 288
Language: English