A Little Life, Hardback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity.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.


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After a slow start (four friends living, loving, laughing in New York) this suddenly gets very interesting, as Jude's mysterious backstory is dripfed to us over several hundred pages. As a mediation on self-loathing and depression, it can be very thought-provoking ... but everything seems far too black and white. Our unlucky protagonist is straight out of the misery memoir aisle, and the unwavering cheeriness of his friends and family starts to grate. It also ends rather abruptly - if that's possible in a 700+ page book!

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