NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A stunning “portrait of the enduring grace of friendship” (NPR) about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves. A masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century.
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • MAN BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST • WINNER OF THE KIRKUS PRIZE
A Little Life follows four college classmates—broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition—as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves.
Look for Hanya Yanagihara’s new novel, To Paradise, coming in January 2022.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A Little Life will stun you and break your heart. After graduating from an elite university, four young men navigate the ambitions and distractions of life in New York City. Hanya Yanagihara slowly fills out the outlines of her characters: Malcolm, JB, Willem and Jude; and the effect is like watching a gifted painter toil over a complicated canvas. As this dense novel zeroes in on Jude and his horrific upbringing, we experience an overwhelming desire to step into the story and comfort the brilliant, quietly suffering lawyer, to counteract the unfathomable cruelties he’s endured. That’s how lifelike this novel is, and how exceptionally powerful.
Yanagihara follows her 2013 debut novel, The People in the Trees, with an epic American tragedy. The story begins with four college friends moving to New York City to begin their careers: architect Malcolm, artist JB, actor Willem, and lawyer Jude. Early on, their concerns are money and job related as they try to find footholds in their respective fields. Over the course of the book, which spans three decades, we witness their highs and lows as they face addiction, deception, and abuse, and their relationships falter and strengthen. The focus narrows as the story unspools and really, this is Jude's story. Unlike his friends, who have largely ordinary lives, Jude has a horrific trauma in his past, and his inner demons are central to the story. Throughout the years, Jude struggles to keep his terrible childhood secret and to trust those who love him. He cuts himself and contemplates suicide, even as his career flourishes and his friends support him. This is a novel that values the everyday over the extraordinary, the push and pull of human relationships and the book's effect is cumulative. There is real pleasure in following characters over such a long period, as they react to setbacks and successes, and, in some cases, change. By the time the characters reach their 50s and the story arrives at its moving conclusion, readers will be attached and find them very hard to forget.
The type of book you put down and go, "f--k..."
In short, 'A Little Life' is a complete masterpiece - a must-read. It's the type of book where, when you finish, you need to take a few weeks before starting a new book so you can digest the expansive story you've just ingested.
The story spans across the course of almost 50 years, many times about everyday "mundane" days, but never once feels tedious to read. The characters are so real, so painfully humanly flawed and beautifully portrayed, I often found myself having a hard time reading through my tears. You will feel Jude, Willem, JB and Malcom's every joy and sorrow, their agonies and their successes - you've probably asked yourself all the same life questions the characters do. This book is not for the faint of heart (it often feels as though you are really friends with the characters and want to shake them out of the book) but it is entirely worth every moment.
The title perfectly encapsulates the overall book - one life, to that person, can seem so small, and yet the ripples of how they affect the world around them are immense.
Thank you for this gift to the world.
Words escape me
I’ve never felt more humanity reach me, truly touch me, torture my soul, and wrench tears, than the days I spent reading this. I’m thankful for the reminder of life.
Because he knew he wasn’t
This book is incredible for many reasons. Instead of imposing these my reasons on you, I will leave you to develop your own. I will say only this: the people (yes, people, not characters) in this book feel as real in this life as the people who are physically real in this life, my life, the one that inhabits the space that you and I share together on the Earth, and the emotions they’ve brought me to feel and the lessons they’ve brought me to learn will, I think, stay with me for as long as I can imagine.
You must read this book, in its entirety: you must read and then inhabit this life, so that it might inhabit you.
I will only say, as a disclaimer, that while this book offers sometimes immense hope, its reputation as a tragedy also holds true, and if you are insecure in your attachment to life, this book could either present a danger or a salvation, so read carefully, and know that you can stop reading at any time and leave the lives as they are on that page.
Thinking of you, with love,