Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015**
Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light.
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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.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.
In a remarkable and precise prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.
Caroline Baum's Review
A Little Life ... but a very big book indeed. Over six hundred pages to be exact. I won't pretend this couldn't do with a prune here and there, but overall, it's immensely satisfying. The arc of the narrative is the life of four male friends, all of them polished and successful New York achievers - but one figure is the hub of the story: Jude, who has had a terrible troubled, abused childhood which haunts every aspect of his adult existence.
His solution to ridding himself of his dreadful memories is ghastly - the passages describing his self-harm make for hard and disturbing reading. Supported by his adoptive parents and by his lover, can he find a way to shed the nightmares? That question kept me emotionally engaged, thanks to the tenderness with which the author captures the intense relationships in this masculine world.
This is in sharp contrast to the harshness with which Ferrante dissects female friendship in her Neapolitan quartet (see above).
About the Author
Hanya Yanagihara is the author of The People in the Trees. She is an editor-at-large at Condé Nast Traveller and lives in New York City.