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A Little Life: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015 (Picador Collection) Paperback – 10 March 2016
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A Little Life makes for near-hypnotically compelling reading, a vivid, hyperreal portrait of human existence that demands intense emotional investment . . . An astonishing achievement: a novel of grand drama and sentiment, but it's a canvas Yanagihara has painted with delicate, subtle brushstrokes., Independent
One of the pleasures of fiction is how suddenly a brilliant writer can alter the literary landscape . . . Ms. Yanagihara's immense new book . . . announces her, as decisively as a second work can, as a major American novelist. Here is an epic study of trauma and friendship written with such intelligence and depth of perception that it will be one of the benchmarks against which all other novels that broach those subjects (and they are legion) will be measured., Wall Street Journal
How often is a novel so deeply disturbing that you might find yourself weeping, and yet so revelatory about human kindness that you might also feel touched by grace? Yanagihara's astonishing and unsettling second novel . . . plumbs the rich inner lives of all of her characters... You don't just care deeply about all these lives. Thanks to the author's exquisite skill, you feel as if you are living them . . . A Little Life is about the unimaginable cruelty of human beings, the savage things done to a child and his lifelong struggle to overcome the damage. Its pages are soaked with grief, but it's also about the bottomless human capacity for love and endurance . . . It's not hyperbole to call this novel a masterwork - if anything that word is simply just too little for it, San Francisco Chronicle
Martin Amis once asked, "Who else but Tolstoy has made happiness really swing on the page?" And the surprising answer is that Hanya Yanagihara has: counterintuitively, the most moving parts of "A Little Life" are not its most brutal but its tenderest ones, moments when Jude receives kindness and support from his friends . . . "A Little Life" feels elemental, irreducible-and, dark and disturbing though it is, there is beauty in it -- Jon Michaud, New Yorker
Hanya Yanagihara's no-holds-barred second novel A Little Life has established her as a major new voice in US fiction. -- Tim Adams, Observer
Utterly compelling . . . quite an extraordinary novel. It is impossible to put down . . . And it is almost impossible to forget. -- Mernie Gilmore, Daily Express
[The] spring's must-read novel . . . Her debut . . . put her on the literary map, her massive new novel . . . signals the arrival of a major new voice in fiction . . . Her achievement has less to do with size than with her powerful evocation of the fragility of self . . . the pained beauty that suffuses this novel, an American epic that eloquently counters our culture's fixation with redemptive narratives., Vogue US
[A] wholly immersive unforgettable read . . . You won't stop reading. And it's a novel that changes you., Evening Standard
The triumph of A Little Life's many pages is significant: It wraps us so thoroughly in a character's life that his trauma, his struggles, his griefs come to seem as familiar and inescapable as our own. There's no one way to experience loss, abuse, or the effects of trauma, of course, but the vividness of Jude's character and experiences makes the pain almost tangible, the fall-out more comprehensible. It's a monument of empathy, and that alone makes this novel wondrous, Huffington Post
From the Back Cover
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015
Shortlisted for the US National Book Awards 2015
'A singularly profound and moving work . . . It's not often that you read a book of this length and find yourself thinking "I wish it was longer" but Yanagihara takes you so deeply into the lives and minds of these characters that you struggle to leave them behind.' The Times
'A Little Life is unlike anything else out there . . . Quite simply unforgettable.' Independent on Sunday
'Utterly compelling . . . An extraordinary novel. It is impossible to put down . . . And it is almost impossible to forget.' Daily Express
'A devastating read that will leave your heart, like the Grinch's, a few sizes larger.' Observer
'A Little Life makes for near-hypnotically compelling reading . . . An astonishing achievement: a novel of grand drama and sentiment, but it's a canvas Yanagihara has painted with delicate, subtle brushstrokes.' Independent
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- Item Weight : 509 g
- Paperback : 736 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781447294832
- ISBN-13 : 978-1447294832
- Dimensions : 13.1 x 4.4 x 19.6 cm
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Publisher : Picador; Main Market edition (10 March 2016)
- ASIN : 1447294831
- Language: : English
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Initially I was worried about DNFing it because the first hundred pages weren't that eventful and I wasn't really invested in the story and thought I'd certainly give up but as the story progressed, and the characters and their life struggles kept unfolding, I got connected to the story without even realizing it.
The story revolves around four best friends — Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. These four men have been there for each other through every phase of life and have faced every hardship together.
All the characters have their own story that makes your heart break but I personally felt that Jude's life and his story was one, that was devastatingly horrible. Of course, that doesn't mean that the trauma, the other characters went through was any less but I think out of all them, I definitely resonated with Jude's character and felt his pain. My eyed welled up at points and I wanted to fly overseas and confront the author because HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO THIS POOR BABY?
It was overwhelming and this book is definitely not all rainbows and sunshine, it's dark and raw and brutally honest and it makes you want to throw it away or even rip it to pieces but not because of being awful but awfully honest which is why it's worth it.
Apart from the four Willem is my absolute favorite. This book has a bunch of amazing secondary characters too, whose presence compliments our main protagonists. Harold, Richard and Andy being my favourites.
There isn't a lot to say about the book without spilling the beans so I'll stop right here because I obviously want you to read it on your own.
It's devastating, honest and unapologetic. The way it's written is beautiful and intense at the same time. Do not let your fear of lengthy books deprive you of the wonderful experience of reading this book. I would also recommend listening to the audiobook which is equally good if not better.
This is a messed up review but it is a messed up story.
1. Beautifully epitomizes power of friendship and brotherhood.
2. Absolutely lovable characters - Jude the lawyer, Willem the actor, JB the painter, Harold the foster father, Andy the doctor.
3. Harold’s narratives were simply beautiful, full of love, very parental. You will want to get adopted by him!
4. The gay romance was very sweet and loving (I can’t believe I’m saying that!).
5. Loved the creative art and masterpieces of JB and Malcolm. Very visual.
6. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful prose. Leaves u shocked, pained, panicked, breathless with an empty hollow hole in ur gut.
7. Details of self-abuse made me physically cringe, it was so real & gruesome.
1. Serious health hazard. Read with caution.
2. Emotional abuser about Physical abuse.
3. ALittleLife is ALittleLong!! I skipped about 150 pgs.
4. Never-ending, depressing nightmare. Lil too-bad-to-be-happening-to-one-person-in-one-lifetime!
5. The book should be renamed as The Gay Life! Everything gay about it and too much of it too.
6. Not much characterization on Malcolm. No back history on how they all became friends.
7. Most importantly: Hanya’s writing style was very confusing. You wouldn’t know who she was talking about until you read few paragraphs or sometimes even few pages! Every chapter started out with that confusion! Also it was confusing as to who is black, who is white, who is gay and who is not!
8. The writing didn’t let me accurately visualize their faces either due to lack of/confusing details regarding physical descriptions.
My journey and reading experience: May contain spoilers. The book will renew your faith in the goodness of people out there. The book will destroy your faith and trust in people. It is full of raw and real emotions. You will feel intense anger at Caleb the boyfriend. You will feel disgust and nausea at Brother Luke’s “niceness”. You will hate nice people after this book. Coz it is a MASK that people wear. When I reached the point of Dr. Taylor, I was like “what the hell is going on”?! I hated Jude’s selfish, self-involved, self-absorbed personality. There are good people surrounding him who wanted to help him and still his trauma consumed him and made him shut off from those who loved him. But that goes onto show the long-term consequences of abuse. Damaged soul indeed. Suicide attempts, self-abuse - all were so painful and insightful too. Highly NOT-recommended if you have any mental instability/disturbances/tendencies. 4-stars🌟🌟🌟🌟
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However, solely judging the author on her writing and having watched her interviews: her writing is powerful and whatever objectives she set for herself while conceptualising this novel, she hit a nail on its head. I'm looking forward to reading her other books.
It becomes clear one-fifth of the way way into the book that Jude is the main protagonist and the essence of the book is in his relationship's that he builds through the course of the book.
The aptely titled novel 'A Little Live' took me a little more that 2 weeks to finish, never letting go of it's hold on me. The story sucked me in right from the beginning.
Although the story is profoundly touching, it's never preaching or overtly melodramatic.
Without reveling much, a must read. I know this is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time.
Top reviews from other countries
The writing of this book is sublime in its language and Hanya Yanagihara is able to write plot lines, that in some parts are harrowing, in a beautiful and lyrical way. I actually found her prose hypnotic, I was drawn into this book and couldn't tear my eyes away from the page. There are lots of difficult issues discussed in this book, rape, abuse, suicide, drug abuse, and many more but still I was entranced by this book. Hanaya Yanagihara shows a great understanding, intelligence and empathy towards these subjects. Her characterisation is again wonderful, with all her characters so true to life that at times I felt like I was reading a biography/autobiography rather than a piece of fiction. In a way A Little Life is a dark Fairytale with good, evil and romance at its centre.
Jude is the main character in A Little Life, and all the other character's stories are all linked to his. In all my years of reading I don't think I have ever come across a character as damaged psychologically and physically as Jude. When we first meet him in the book we know he has physical problems and throughout the book his past is gradually revealed to the reader. Jude has experienced the best and worst of humanity through his life, and seen love in many guises from destructive love to the love of friendship that is all encompassing. Even though his story is hard to read in places, I found him a compelling character who I was really down to and wanted him to find happiness. Willem is the person whom he is closest to, a friendship that is unconditional and intense in places; it is Willem that is there for Jude at some of his lowest moments. Malcolm is different in that he comes from a wealthy family, very different from Jude who has no family and Willem whose parents are dead. His relationship with JB can be tense around the subject of race; Malcolm has a white mother and black father where as JB's parents are both black. JB is the typical troubled artist, very talented but also open to addiction. Through his story there is the time old discussion of what is art, figurative painting versus the modern art of the instillation, photography and performance art. I was really drawn into this as it something I studied with my degree and always find it a fascinating subject.
To say A Little Life is a masterpiece, a Magnus opus, feels like an understatement. I have read the winner of the Booker Prize from 2015, A Brief History of Seven Killings, and have to say I think A Little Life is so much better. There are very few novels, except from the classics, that I keep to read again but this book will be added to that shelf to join other books that I found through the Booker Prize; Possession by A.S Byatt, Amsterdam by Ian MacEwan and The Goldfinch and The Secret History by Donna Tartt being on that shelf. This is a mesmerising, intelligent, all encompassing read and one that will stay with me forever. This is a monumental novel in my opinion and one I will always recommend as well as those mentioned above. A Little Life is fiction at its absolute best; the perfect novel.