Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is an immensely powerful and heartbreaking novel of brotherly love and the limits of human endurance.
When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome 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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he'll not only be unable to overcome - but that will define his life forever.
Utterly gripping. Wonderfully romantic and sometimes harrowing, A Little Life kept me reading late into the night, night after night
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. In recent years, only Edward St. Aubyn's Patrick Melrose novels have confronted with similarly enduring power the long aftermath of abuse (and the sleepless duties required in loving abuse victims). But while Mr. St. Aubyn's writing relies on matador-like thrusts of barbed irony, A Little Life achieves its lasting effect with calm, thoroughgoing realism. There's an amazing sense of totality in the portrayals here, and in Jude especially. He is fragmented by fear and shame, but Ms. Yanagihara depicts him as a man in full. His life, the precarious essence of this important novel, is not less than an odyssey of survival
Wall Street Journal