#amreading A Little Life
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Discovered: Shortlisted for the 2015 Booker Prize
Where read: Everywhere, this book didn't leave my side for 2 weeks
What's the story?
A Little Life is an epic coming-of-middle-age novel that follows a group of four friends after they graduate from college. Jude, Willem, JB and Malcolm each formed a bond in their twenties that ties them together through the rest of their lives. Lawyer Jude and actor Willem, both orphaned, take centre stage as the story develops in the apartment they rent together in NYC. The novel was shortlisted for both the National Book Award for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize.
The Word's Shortlist view:I was thoroughly drawn into this novel from the very beginning bingeing on pages on the train, in the street and waiting for the lift at work. I can only apologise for the inevitable "Good Mornings" that I've been ignoring for the passed couple of weeks. Thinking back, the only other novel to have this affect on me recently was David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks.
So, why is this book so easy to fall in love with? Hanya Yanagihara creates an intimate world full of characters we actually believe, empathise with and more importantly trust. Over 750 beautifully written pages we are rewarded with a lifetime's worth of compelling and at times devastating narrative.
For me, the genius of the novel is the way Yanagihara connects us with the characters, particularly Jude, before taking us to places few writers can effectively conjure. As we learn more about Jude's childhood there a scenes of child abuse, rape and self-harm that are devastating initially and eventually moving in a way few novels can actually deliver.
But the novel is also accomplished in the detail, the extreme loyalty that Jude's friends and adopted family demonstrate throughout is unwavering and beautifully written. Harold, Jude's former mentor and later adopted father, is tender, kind and protective even when pushed to inconceivable lengths. The love he shows for both Jude and Willem is one of the most eloquent parts of the book.
Never indulgent, this is a story that needs many pages to breath. After all, real life isn't about one off incidents or experiences but about the way these are played out daily for years after.
"..things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”
Who should read this book?
To live with these characters is an unforgettable experience that you'll miss when its over. Prepare yourself now, life will never be the same again.
What’s next on the bookshelf
Revenge by Yoko Ogawa