Brandon Taylor on representation in literature —

At that time, it was possible to complain your way into social prominence and into book deals or at least into blogs that you could one day hopefully convert into a book deal. It was time of high grievance. And so I am not surprised that my statement of purpose begins with this straightforward declaration of representation hunger. I don’t know that I feel the same thing in quite the same intensity now. I mean, certainly, I write what I want and what I want to write is stories about gay black men. I am not trying to represent anyone. This is just what brings me pleasure. And I don’t find that I owe a particular duty to anyone or anything in my writing of them. I think the way I meant that first line then was “no one tells queer black boys what they can expect from this life” that I wanted my work to be a corrective. Just at that moment, actually, a great deal of voices rose out of the internet to spend quite a lot of time and energy telling queer black boys what they can expect from the world. Like, a lot. To the point of it turning into a scheme of self-victimization.

It's actually kind of wild.

I do think that my work more or less achieved the other goals set out in that paragraph. For example, I think my work has very much been interested in finding language for the intimate relationships between men. I am not creating such a vocabulary, I don’t think. I would not make such a claim. But I do think that in my work, I am writing about interactions and kinds of interactions that feel true to me and which I have not seen written about very much before. I also think that in my steadfast dedication to domestic realism—the Cheever of it all, my problematic ancestress—I am importing queer life into a space that Updike once said was incompatible with queer characters. That also is not very new. But it is something I wanted to do and I have done it.

Brandon Taylor on representation in lit…