SELECTED AS ONE OF THE OPRAH DAILY'S BEST BOOKS OF 2022 From the author of the classic A LITTLE LIFE, a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia. In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist's damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him-and solve the mystery of her husband's disappearances. These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can't exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness. TO PARADISE is a fin de siecle novel of marvelous literary effect, but above all it is a work of emotional genius. The great power of this remarkable novel is driven by Yanagihara's understanding of the aching desire to protect those we love - partners, lovers, children, friends, family and even our fellow citizens - and the pain that ensues when we cannot. PRAISE FOR TO PARADISE 'To Paradise is a transcendent, visionary novel of stunning scope and depth. A novel so layered, so rich, so relevant, so full of the joys and terrors-the pure mystery-of human life, is not only rare, it's revolutionary.' Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours 'Hanya Yanagihara interrogates love and history in a novel that feels prophetic, but in fact rises from the oldest of human themes: ardor, shame, and our most profound protective instincts. She builds a future narrated by vulnerable yet sturdy Charlie, a merciful heart burning for all creation. To Paradise is a world of its own, a major work, and one of the rare books equipped to tell us what it means to be an American.' Louise Erdrich, Author of Pulitzer Prize winning The Night Watchman and New York Times Bestseller, The Sentence 'Sometimes literature takes time to digest momentous events... Occasionally, though, a masterpiece emerges from the white heat of the moment: The Great Gatsby, The Decameron, The Waste Land. There's something miraculous about reading To Paradise while the coronavirus crisis is still playing out around us, the dizzying sense that you're immersed in a novel that will come to represent the age, its obsessions and anxieties. It's rare that you get the opportunity to review a masterpiece, but To Paradise, definitively, is one.' - The Observer 'We are given a patriarch, wealth, children; there is an arranged marriage, an inheritance, a true love, a class divide and a significant twist. Deftly paced and judiciously detailed, the tale makes hay with the conventions of the 19th-century novel. But that's not all. With breathtaking audacity Yanagihara rewrites America . . . Yanagihara masterfully repurposes themes, situations and motifs . . . This ambitious novel tackles major American questions and answers them in an original, engrossing way. It has a major feel. But it is finally in [its] minor moments that Yanagihara shows greatness.' Gish Jen, The New York Times Book...
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Hanya Yanagihara’s ambitious follow-up to A Little Life spans three centuries in alternate versions of New York City, including a dystopian future shaped by multiple pandemics. Using imaginative variations on its key characters and settings, To Paradise tells a story of romantic love, family bonds and personal freedom while chronicling the strengths and flaws of America itself. Yanagihara sustains the novel’s bold three-part structure and length thanks to her clear, patient prose, nailing intimate, emotional nuances while expanding ever outward. Fans of Cloud Atlas will appreciate the delicate overlap between multiple timelines, as the author reflects our modern moment through a dazzling prism of other possibilities.
Yanagihara's ambitious if unwieldy latest (after National Book Award finalist A Little Life) spins a set of three stories in New York City's Washington Square over 200 years. David Bingham lives in the utopian "Free States" of 1893. He rejects a proposed arranged marriage with another wealthy, older man, opting to pursue a love match with a music teacher who lives a hardscrabble life. At a dinner party in 1993, the host's oldest friend is dying from AIDS as the other guests consider the meaning of one's legacy. One of them, also named David Bingham (this one a native Hawaiian paralegal), is cautiously optimistic about his relationship with his wealthy older boyfriend, Charles Griffith. A century later, a woman named Charlie Griffith deals with dystopian conditions such as a series of pandemics and a totalitarian society in which the press and homosexual relationships have been outlawed, and struggles to build a meaningful relationship with her husband. The stories are united by the characters' desire for love as their freedom is diminished. The prose in the first section effectively conjures the style of Henry James, but there's too much exposition and not enough character development in the final section, where the author spends too much time building out the future world. There's a great deal of passion, but on the whole it's a mixed bag.