A Little Life by Hanya YanagiharaA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life

byHanya Yanagihara

Paperback | January 26, 2016

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ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
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WINNER OF THE KIRKUS PRIZE

A MAN BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST
A NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

A Little Life follows four college classmates—broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition—as they move to New York in search of fame and fortune. While their relationships, which are tinged by addiction, success, and pride, deepen over the decades, the men are held together by their devotion to the brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a man scarred by an unspeakable childhood trauma. A hymn to brotherly bonds and a masterful depiction of love in the twenty-first century, Hanya Yanagihara’s stunning novel is about the families we are born into, and those that we make for ourselves.
Hanya Yanagihara lives in New York City.
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Title:A Little LifeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:832 pages, 7.9 × 5.2 × 1.4 inPublished:January 26, 2016Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0804172706

ISBN - 13:9780804172707

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heartrending, yet amazing. A Little Life is possibly the bleakest and most horrific, yet most wonderful and heartwarming book I have ever read. It is a study in trauma and suffering, but it also finds hope and joy in the smaller things in life, and the beauty of friendship and unconditional love. This book has truly made me want to be a better person.
Date published: 2017-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a truly heartbreaking novel I read that Yanagihara wrote the book to get progressively darker and darker... and she did! This book starts off innocently enough but just gradually gets more and more depressing. Nevertheless, she writes beautifully, has interesting characters, and a plot that never once gets boring or slow. I never felt like I had so much more to read or one of those "ughhhh I still have more than half the book to go"... even with the length, I read the book in two days (mind you, that's all I did for those two days!). Either way, read this book for sure if you want your heart ripped out of your soul! It was amazing.
Date published: 2017-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A deeply affecting novel This is probably one of the best books I've read in awhile, and it's also one of the saddest. It's narrates probably the hardest life you've ever read, but it's completely engrossing and wonderfully written and very moving.
Date published: 2017-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favorite book I've read this year I first saw this listed as one of the most addicting books on Man Repeller, and I'm so so happy that I ordered it. This book is beautiful and poetic, and at times difficult to read. I couldn't put it down for three days as I read it, and afterwards I couldn't pick up another book as I took time to decompress from this read. Amazing.
Date published: 2017-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from devastating and heartbreaking This book is relentless, and brilliantly told. Simultaneously takes away your hope for humanity, while also providing the most beautiful moments of friendship that make your heart swell. Among the best books I've read in years.
Date published: 2017-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A heavy read but worth it! Feeling absolutely gutted after finishing this book. I think it could have been condensed a bit but I appreciate how connected I became to each of the characters and how much I seemed to really feel the impact of what was happening in their lives. This story is a very heavy read; sad, raw, but incredibly beautiful.
Date published: 2017-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding It's heartbreaking and difficult at times to read. But the friendship that plays a role in this book makes you feel whole again. Superb book. I'm recommending this to everyone I know. #plumreviews
Date published: 2017-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible read This book broke me. It was simply amazing; the writing was beautiful, the characters felt real and the story was heartbreaking. By far one of my favorite book ever.
Date published: 2017-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED THIS BOOK Such a beautifully written, heart wrenching horrific story that you just can't put down. The character development, the relationships, the life, the feelings, the memories...everything this book makes you feel and more. It honestly was a book I HAD to get through but then wished I could slow down reading to prolong the feeling of being engulfed in this book and the incredible writing. I borrowed this book, but will be purchasing it to have in my library. It just resonates in so many ways.
Date published: 2017-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best books I have ever read Wonderful book. Although it gets very tragic at times, you can connect really well with the main character. The author's style of writing allows you to pass through all emotions possible. Will forever stay in my library.
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant Book Such a wonderful, yet heartbreaking, book. I read this about a year ago, and it still haunts me. Incredible.
Date published: 2017-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I haven't connected with a book like this in so long I bought this book without expecting much, it was recommended by a friend who normally has different tastes in books than I do. She promised it would be one I liked. And she was right. I haven't connected with a book like this in years. I rarely cry while reading, and can normally get over finishing books fairly quick, this was an exception. I wanted it to keep going, I wanted it to get better. It is the kind of kick you in your stomach pain, you think everything is looking up in the story line, its finally going to get better, but it isn't. The content is not for the faint of heart.
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful A beautiful tragedy.. there's no other way to put it. My heart ached for Jude as well as his family and friends. Much of this novel was difficult to stomach, but it was important to read and empathize with the characters. The friendship between Jude, Willem, Malcolm and JB was a testament to how there is strength in numbers. Although the ending was inevitable, it still hurt as if I knew these people.
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It will stay with you forever This books has become my new favourite. The amount of emotion I felt reading this books was beyond comprehension. Four intertwined stories of these four boys is...beyond words. Beautifully written.
Date published: 2017-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This'll Stay With Me For A Lifetime! This book made me feel every single emotion that a human is capable of feeling, and at intense levels too! There are moments that I relate to, moments that broke my heart, moments that I literally had to put the book down for a few minutes because I was so angry from what I read, moments that made me cry tears of joy, moments that made me ponder life, and the list goes on. It can be very dark at times, but don't let that scare you. This book is a truly incredible read. This is what a story should feel like.
Date published: 2017-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow This is an absolutely fantastic book. Takes th story of four friends searching for meaning through the evolution of their relationships. Eartwrenching and provocative. a must read
Date published: 2017-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This was one of the most amazing books I have ever read. It's heart wrenching!, At times I just needed a break because it was so emotional. Beautifully written!
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tragic but Beautifully written Hands down this is one of the most powerful and thought provoking books I have ever read. There were times when the subject matter was difficult to get through, but I couldn't put this book down no matter what. I recommend it to everyone I know, although I can't recommend it lightly. Be prepared for some raw and emotional moments! You will be thinking about the characters in this book for many years to come.
Date published: 2017-02-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heart-wrenching I read this book right after it came out in 2015 and still think about the characters from time to time. Yes, it felt manipulative at times but it was so thought provoking and raw that I would recommend it to others.
Date published: 2017-02-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The most depressing book I've ever read Nice written, however there were parts hard to digest. Too much suffering.
Date published: 2017-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Alluring and Devastating What entrapped me the most about this book was the ongoing theme of friendship, both in its humble beginnings, through trials and tribulations until its bittersweet end. This book can pierce the coldest of hearts with its gut wrenching accounts of personal tribulation, childhood trauma and depression. This book is a must read!
Date published: 2017-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heart-wrenching This book was not what I had expected at all. Probably one of the best fiction books I have ever read...3 days to read an 800+ page book... a real heart-wrenching account of love, friendship and suffering. Not a story for the faint of heart and no doubt you will find yourself bawling by the end.
Date published: 2017-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breath-taking Only two books made me cry in my life. This book is one of them. A must-read!
Date published: 2017-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I heard its a must read! I heard this book is a must-read! I will definitely will get this book!
Date published: 2017-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heart-wrenching stories I loved this book so much, it was very hard to put down. As Jude's story unfolds, my heart felt for him through and through. I don't wanna give more away, but I will say that the characters are wonderfully developed, and the story is intriguing, if tragic.
Date published: 2016-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top 3 Probably the best fiction I have ever read. A poignant and profound account of friendship, love and suffering.
Date published: 2016-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from New Favorite This book is mentally and emotionally exhausting. I was horrified but mesmerised by A little Life I couldn't stop reading. I got to page 700 and ugly cried for the rest this book, it's not for the faint of heart, very dark but so worth it. This is beautifully written by Yanagihara and has a very real world point of view on people and there different relationships, the good and the bad also that family is who we make it and life is sick and unfair. I love this book and it maybe one of my all time favorites but it's not for mentally fragile persons because this book hurts so I won't recommended it for everyone but to most.
Date published: 2016-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Definitely a hard and painful read...but amazing at the same time Without a doubt, this book is one of the hardest books I've ever read. One of the hardest books I've ever been able to get through and believe me, that is saying something because I've read quite the variety. First, the content. Some of the aspects of this novel were hard to read. To say this book is graphic is beyond an understatement and I want to warn readers that it could be triggering if they have a history of abuse, self harm, depression, etc. The content in this book is HEAVY and it isn't just one section, it's the majority of the novel. Secondly, the length. Typically, I can be a fast reader and get through about ten novels a month. This book, I originally had started in January, had to return it to the library, started again in the end of February and have now finished it at the end of March. I could not rush through this novel or even read it very fast. Because of the content and the depth of this novel, I DID need those breaks and would set this book aside for a couple days. Overall, this book was incredible. It's hard to say incredible because I mean the writing, the relationships, the characters. All of those components made this novel beautiful. It was also a horrific and terrifying story that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. It's hard to recommend this book because it really is one of the most intense books that I've ever read but it also exemplifies true and unconditional love through different relationships between the characters. I think I'll remember this story for the rest of my life.
Date published: 2016-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hauntingly beautiful read. This book touched me deeply. It was difficult to read (subject matter not for the faint of heart), but so wonderful. One of the best books I read this year.
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deeply Painful and Profound "What is happiness but an extravagance…?" I finished A Little Life minutes ago, and am still trying to catch my breath and wipe away the tears. This book pulls you deep into its world, grips you tightly, and finally, relentlessly, lets you go. A beautiful portrait of male friendship, we follow the lives of Jude, JB, Willem, and Malcom from their years after college graduation into middle age. This, however, is Jude’s story. This book explores the darkest dark of humanity, the brutality of life after extreme violence, and the extent of human endurance. …how hard it is to keep alive someone who doesn’t want to stay alive. This quote resonated so deeply for me, and brought to light so many questions about what makes life worth living. If someone is in extreme pain, emotionally or physically, why are they meant to hold on? Should they have to? Is their continuation of life only for the comfort of other people? When is it OK to give a loved one permission to leave this world? These are questions that I have spent a lot of time thinking about prior to reading this book, and it was as comforting as it was difficult to contemplate these thoughts as I followed Jude through his life. This book wasn’t perfect, and certain elements were distracting for me, but I couldn’t possibly give it anything less than 5 stars. I bawled more than once, and the ending was a perfect release. If you’re ready to take this journey, I hope that you will find it a rewarding and challenging endeavour.
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from top five One of the most emotional books I read this year.
Date published: 2016-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best book I read I don't even have words to tell how amazing is this book. It's an intense book and it broke my heart a couple of times, but it was worth it. The way the story is told is beautiful. It's a funny and a sad book at the same time. If I could, I would give 6 stars to this book
Date published: 2016-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must-read! This is one of the modern-day classics for sure! This book was so good, I couldn't put it down. I haven't read books so incredibly well written in quite a long time. The language is complex, the story line is extremely detailed, but, most importantly, the analysis of main characters, their problems and motives is truly magnificent! Especially recommended to fellow clinical psychologists.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A true masterpiece finished reading this book two weeks ago and still can't stop thinking about it! Can easily say that it is one of the best, if not the best, books I have ever read. The plot and protagonists will follow you wherever you go.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth Reading I've just finished reading this and it was totally worth the emotional and long ride.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Emotional Journey I'm just recently getting back into reading after a bit of a hiatus and although this book is long it was not daunting, trying, or hard to read. It was the opposite, so easy to get involved in the characters and the story progressed so beautifully I hope everyone considering this book isn't intimidated by the length. Every page is worth it and required to make this the masterpiece that it is.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful This book means everything to me. I have never had a book blur the lines between reality and fiction this much. I was engrossed in every word, every moment. At times I could sit there and remind myself none of this was real, but more often than not I would sit here and want so badly to fly to New York so I could go meet Jude. Meet Willem. And even then, most of the time I felt like I was one of them. Hanya Yanagihara made me feel like I was in this. I felt like I was a ghost, a friend that followed them around and watched their life. It was surreal and it honestly put me in a weird funk. I was distant this week, quieter than normal. All I wanted to talk about was this book. I didn’t have the emotional capacity to talk to people about anything else. The thing about this book that impacted me so hard is that I grew to love these characters. I grew to regard them as “mine.” As something special to me. While JB was someone I had obvious problems with (I, like Jude, have never been able to get over Jackson’s little dance), I loved his love for the rest of them. And Malcolm, while I can’t say he was my favourite or that I loved him the same, I still grew to love him. Willem is obviously special to me. Almost more so than Jude. I love Jude with all that I am and because of that I just love Willem even more for everything he ever did for Jude. And Jude. Jude Jude Jude. St. Jude was the patron Saint of desperate and lost causes. If that doesn’t explain him, then I don’t know what else can. Can I really say anything else about him? Hanya has already said so much about him, has written an entire novel that leaves absolutely nothing out about his personality. I, as the reader, felt like I was part of Jude. Jude was rarely so open with anyone as he was with me. I think this is what impacted me the most, that Jude trusted no one else as much as he trusts the reader. He doesn’t see that literally everyone who meets him loves him. No one in his “post” life has ever hated him, simply because he is the best sort of person. It saddens me deeply that he doesn’t really exist, that I can’t call Jude and ask him for help when I need it. But again, it makes me incredibly happy he doesn’t exist, because I can’t imagine anyone living with everything he lives with. This book made me FEEL. Feel everything. It made me cry at several points. This is a rare occurrence for me, and shows just how much I loved this. But the moment in the book I felt my heart break was truly the moment I realized what the title means. Page 483. When Jude tells us that Brother Luke asked him to “show a little life, a little enthusiasm” was really the moment that I just couldn’t do it anymore, when the reality fiction line blurred too hard for me. But the book also made me happy. While there was a lot of unhappy moments in The Happy Years section, most of it made me happy. Willem and Jude together was the best thing I could have ever imagined. And honestly, I knew that everyone cried at the 88% mark, and by the time Jude and Willem ended up together I knew either Jude died or Willem died. But I wished it was Jude that died. Not that I wanted Jude dead, I wanted him to live more than anything, but I knew that out of everything that had ever happened to him, losing Willem was not one he could survive. And to live 3 years after was more than I thought he would managed. June 12th will always mean something significant to me, even if Jude isn’t “real.” This book was truly something special. Something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. These characters will never leave me, they will stay with me for all my life. I will revisit the book and I know I will think about them again like they are old friends who I haven’t seen in a while. This book was truly something else.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotional This was the most heart wrenching book I have read in a very long time. I can't believe there hasn't been more of a buzz with this novel. It was heart breaking, beautiful and at times emotionally draining. You must read this!,
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking, but enlightening The prose in this novel was so surreal and allowed such an indepth connection to the characters. This is one of the most important novels in a long time because it explains the true feelings behind life's most complex tragedies. I learned a lot and although the content was very depressing and full of sorrow, it also makes you appreciate the beauty of human connection.
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from heartbreaking A masterpiece, heartbreaking. Definitely I recommend this book. Characters will stay with you forever.
Date published: 2016-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing. Heartbreaking, real, & moving....just wow. I ended this book feeling like I was stepping away from friends and a whole life... highly recommend this beautiful story.
Date published: 2016-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Will Stay With You Long After Last Page Is Read It is hard to accurately describe this book, at is most basic it is a story about relationships. It is unlike anything I've read before, it is devastating and moving. It is also rare to read about the friendships of such diverse men, which is something I appreciated about this novel. Once you start reading you will not be able to stop thinking about the characters and their lives. A must read for 2016.
Date published: 2016-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow Amazing and soul destroying. You won't be whole after finishing it but it's worth it.
Date published: 2016-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Brilliant, Brilliant Book! I just finished reading this incredible mammoth of a book. At the end of the 720 pages I closed the cover, gave it a hug and then wanted to start reading it all over again. It's a heart-wrenching story that was at times very hard to read. While the story includes violence and child abuse it's a story about enduring friendships. The type of friendships that displayed love, kindness, compassion, vulnerability and oh so much patience. As I read the book I wondered, "could I be that type of friend"? If I'm honest, I'm not so sure; but oh how I aspire to be that type of friend. This book has in some ways become part of me, a statement that's hard to explain. While I know this won't be a book for everyone it is a book I will certainly read again.
Date published: 2015-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unforgettably heartbreaking This book is one of the best books I have ever read. The writing is amazing, the characters are so well developed that within the first 50 pages you will know them. This book has won a award already and I believe will win many, many more. It will stay with me forever these characters and I know that it is a book that I will read again. Even though it is heartbreaking and deals with unimaginable abuse, at the center is the beautiful friendships of these men. Please read this book you will never regret it, nor will you ever be the same for it will haunt you.
Date published: 2015-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wow. Just wow. "Dominus dedit, Dominus abstulit; sicut Domino placuit...sit nomen Domini benedictum." And if you don't get that, well here's not the place to rant about the decline of a common Western literary Canon, nor likewise of our terrible facility with the ancient languages. Just look it up on google. Which is all a way of saying that the suffering in this book is of Biblical proportions. It's almost a modern day retelling of the trials of Job. The innocent are tested and there's no guarantee of recompense in this life. Or as one wit said, "Life is a nil-nil score." I suppose the subtext to that is that it's the playing of the game that counts. There's no point in reviewing the plot. There are too many spoilers. And, really, no one wants to hear about the travails of the main character. At least not in my meagre prose. Go read Hanya Yanagihara's own epic writing because she's much better at bringing you in one piece - emotionally battered but still whole - out the other side. All I'll say is that you start with a group of college friends, and several decades later end up with some of their successes, most of their stories, and all of their suffering and love. Is it worth getting to the end of the seven hundred pages? Well, life, with all its peaks and troughs is still worth living. So yes, yes it is.
Date published: 2015-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "My life, he will think, my life." Dear Comrade. There is the life as you know it, or a life as others see it; a life you have heard of but can never fathom, perhaps the life you think only you deserve. There is a loved life to live, a hated life to leave behind, or a hopeful life to begin anew. There is the life had before reading this novel, and a life to contemplate after "A Little Life". Add my fervent consent to the one opinion that is of consensus for this book: I've been broken, "A Little Life" broke me. I have never cried as much reading anything prior as I did reading this. It started, first, with an unsettling and uneasy melancholy, then to some surprising but welcome tears of joy, which only transitioned, or rather, abruptly descended into a state of depressive languishment that left a constant glaze of tears over my eyes. By the end of it, I was a whimpering, wheezing mess, with wetness down my cheeks I had no control over. It is not the tears that mark how tremendous this book is for me though, but the fact that I was emotionally attached as much as I was mindfully invested in this rollercoaster ride we call Jude's life. I reacted and tried rationalizing every detail at every step of the way: I was, in essence, living my life alongside these fully-fleshed characters in their time such that I feel like I've grown with them into adulthood and been privy to the highs and many lows of their collective being. I have never believed in a book that can change, truly change, someone's life, however, "A Little Life" might now be the closest to something that has profoundly impacted me in a way I cannot and will not deny, one that will have repercussions on my outlook on life. "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." With each layer peeled back, there is a raw emotional depth that exposes itself time and time again. It is a very cyclical narrative because of the recurring nature of its sorrows, still, there is always something that crashes down hard on you like a wave. "A Little Life" isn't a book that you can just take lightly on surface level; it challenges you to dig deep into your heart and mind. The fundamental question of 'how do you survive the complexities of life?' is put forth and dissected in full here. Indeed, no matter which way you cut it, the past is always there to haunt us regardless of how little or big that horror is. Yet, even through the tough subject matters, there is the love of a tight-knit group of friends and family, and the hope that shimmers amongst them all that there will come a day that it gets better. But if it doesn't, then what? "You don't understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are - not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving - and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad - or good - it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well." Hanya Yanagihara. Thank you for your exquisitely powerful prose (my copy is marked with many folded pages). Thank you for capturing humanity in its best and worst forms, and all its beauty and ugliness, the successes and failures, that is part and parcel of the delicate but also enduring strength of the human spirit. Thank you for Jude St. Francis, whom I feel like I know as a dear, dear friend, a comrade, and a brother of mine. Thank you for putting a life, his life, into meaning that transcends words on paper so that he, and everyone he loves and who loves him, stay on in me eternally. Thank you for "A Little Life", this spectacular 700-page opus that is larger than life.
Date published: 2015-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A story that will tear your heart out Life is never fair and this story drives that point right through you with the force of an earthquake. The story focuses on four men who were college roommates, each with past and present baggage. For Jude in particular, that baggage is a burden that slowly eats away at his soul and, to some degree, the souls of those he loves. Yamagihara explores some of the darkest nooks and crannies of human behavior and she makes clear just how badly damaged, both physically and emotionally, a person can be left after years of abuse on both of those levels. Eventually the focus shifts and zooms in on two of the main characters. It is a hopeful shift, through which our connection with these men galvanizes into a bond and we share their optimism for a fresh start and a happier tomorrow. However, the path toward happiness is fraught with dark shadows and foreboding signposts. It's many twists and turns lead to several dead ends, from some of which there is no turning back. A Little Life will, unless you are not human, affect you deeply. It's very real and definitely not a fairy tale where everyone lives happily ever after. This story should have five stars, however the book doesn't quite make it on technical merit. I found Ms. Yanagihara too liberal with her use of pronouns to the point that it was impossible, all to often, to figure out which he-him-his she was referring too without tearing myself out of the story to go back and figure it out. This is especially important in a story populated predominantly with characters of the same gender. There were a number of other editorial gaffs including misplaced modifiers, that offered up the same awkward reading experience. If you can push yourself through the technical obstacle course, A Little Life is an amazingly complex and moving story.
Date published: 2015-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An absorbing read. This book is beautifully written on a tough subject. It's a story on friendships and takes you on a journey through the life of the central character Jude , the dark secrets of his brutal childhood and the endurance of those memories. And yes it will challenge you , upset you and profoundly move you.
Date published: 2015-04-14

Read from the Book

1The eleventh apartment had only one closet, but it did have a sliding glass door that opened onto a small balcony, from which he could see a man sitting across the way, outdoors in only a T-shirt and shorts even though it was October, smoking. Willem held up a hand in greeting to him, but the man didn’t wave back.In the bedroom, Jude was accordioning the closet door, opening and shutting it, when Willem came in. “There’s only one closet,” he said.“That’s okay,” Willem said. “I have nothing to put in it anyway.”“Neither do I.” They smiled at each other. The agent from the building wandered in after them. “We’ll take it,” Jude told her.But back at the agent’s office, they were told they couldn’t rent the apartment after all. “Why not?” Jude asked her.“You don’t make enough to cover six months’ rent, and you don’t have anything in savings,” said the agent, suddenly terse. She had checked their credit and their bank accounts and had at last realized that there was something amiss about two men in their twenties who were not a couple and yet were trying to rent a one-bedroom apartment on a dull (but still expensive) stretch of Twenty-fifth Street. “Do you have anyone who can sign on as your guarantor? A boss? Parents?”“Our parents are dead,” said Willem, swiftly.The agent sighed. “Then I suggest you lower your expectations. No one who manages a well-run building is going to rent to candidates with your financial profile.” And then she stood, with an air of finality, and looked pointedly at the door.When they told JB and Malcolm this, however, they made it into a comedy: the apartment floor became tattooed with mouse droppings, the man across the way had almost exposed himself, the agent was upset because she had been flirting with Willem and he hadn’t reciprocated.“Who wants to live on Twenty-fifth and Second anyway,” asked JB. They were at Pho Viet Huong in Chinatown, where they met twice a month for dinner. Pho Viet Huong wasn’t very good--the pho was curiously sugary, the lime juice was soapy, and at least one of them got sick after every meal--but they kept coming, both out of habit and necessity. You could get a bowl of soup or a sandwich at Pho Viet Huong for five dollars, or you could get an entrée, which were eight to ten dollars but much larger, so you could save half of it for the next day or for a snack later that night. Only Malcolm never ate the whole of his entrée and never saved the other half either, and when he was finished eating, he put his plate in the center of the table so Willem and JB--who were always hungry--could eat the rest.“Of course we don’t want to live at Twenty-fifth and Second, JB,” said Willem, patiently, “but we don’t really have a choice. We don’t have any money, remember?”“I don’t understand why you don’t stay where you are,” said Malcolm, who was now pushing his mushrooms and tofu--he always ordered the same dish: oyster mushrooms and braised tofu in a treacly brown sauce--around his plate, as Willem and JB eyed it.“Well, I can’t,” Willem said. “Remember?” He had to have explained this to Malcolm a dozen times in the last three months. “Merritt’s boyfriend’s moving in, so I have to move out.”“But why do you have to move out?”“Because it’s Merritt’s name on the lease, Malcolm!” said JB.“Oh,” Malcolm said. He was quiet. He often forgot what he considered inconsequential details, but he also never seemed to mind when people grew impatient with him for forgetting. “Right.” He moved the mushrooms to the center of the table. “But you, Jude--”“I can’t stay at your place forever, Malcolm. Your parents are going to kill me at some point.”“My parents love you.”“That’s nice of you to say. But they won’t if I don’t move out, and soon.”Malcolm was the only one of the four of them who lived at home, and as JB liked to say, if he had Malcolm’s home, he would live at home too. It wasn’t as if Malcolm’s house was particularly grand--it was, in fact, creaky and ill-kept, and Willem had once gotten a splinter simply by running his hand up its banister--but it was large: a real Upper East Side town house. Malcolm’s sister, Flora, who was three years older than him, had moved out of the basement apartment recently, and Jude had taken her place as a short-term solution: Eventually, Malcolm’s parents would want to reclaim the unit to convert it into offices for his mother’s literary agency, which meant Jude (who was finding the flight of stairs that led down to it too difficult to navigate anyway) had to look for his own apartment.And it was natural that he would live with Willem; they had been roommates throughout college. In their first year, the four of them had shared a space that consisted of a cinder-blocked common room, where sat their desks and chairs and a couch that JB’s aunts had driven up in a U-Haul, and a second, far tinier room, in which two sets of bunk beds had been placed. This room had been so narrow that Malcolm and Jude, lying in the bottom bunks, could reach out and grab each other’s hands. Malcolm and JB had shared one of the units; Jude and Willem had shared the other.“It’s blacks versus whites,” JB would say.“Jude’s not white,” Willem would respond.“And I’m not black,” Malcolm would add, more to annoy JB than because he believed it.“Well,” JB said now, pulling the plate of mushrooms toward him with the tines of his fork, “I’d say you could both stay with me, but I think you’d fucking hate it.” JB lived in a massive, filthy loft in Little Italy, full of strange hallways that led to unused, oddly shaped cul-de-sacs and unfinished half rooms, the Sheetrock abandoned mid-construction, which belonged to another person they knew from college. Ezra was an artist, a bad one, but he didn’t need to be good because, as JB liked to remind them, he would never have to work in his entire life. And not only would he never have to work, but his children’s children’s children would never have to work: They could make bad, unsalable, worthless art for generations and they would still be able to buy at whim the best oils they wanted, and impractically large lofts in downtown Manhattan that they could trash with their bad architectural decisions, and when they got sick of the artist’s life--as JB was convinced Ezra someday would--all they would need to do is call their trust officers and be awarded an enormous lump sum of cash of an amount that the four of them (well, maybe not Malcolm) could never dream of seeing in their lifetimes. In the meantime, though, Ezra was a useful person to know, not only because he let JB and a few of his other friends from school stay in his apartment--at any time, there were four or five people burrowing in various corners of the loft--but because he was a good-natured and basically generous person, and liked to throw excessive parties in which copious amounts of food and drugs and alcohol were available for free.“Hold up,” JB said, putting his chopsticks down. “I just realized--there’s someone at the magazine renting some place for her aunt. Like, just on the verge of Chinatown.”“How much is it?” asked Willem.“Probably nothing--she didn’t even know what to ask for it. And she wants someone in there that she knows.”“Do you think you could put in a good word?”“Better--I’ll introduce you. Can you come by the office tomorrow?”Jude sighed. “I won’t be able to get away.” He looked at Willem.“Don’t worry--I can. What time?”“Lunchtime, I guess. One?”“I’ll be there.”Willem was still hungry, but he let JB eat the rest of the mushrooms. Then they all waited around for a bit; sometimes Malcolm ordered jackfruit ice cream, the one consistently good thing on the menu, ate two bites, and then stopped, and he and JB would finish the rest. But this time he didn’t order the ice cream, and so they asked for the bill so they could study it and divide it to the dollar.The next day, Willem met JB at his office. JB worked as a receptionist at a small but influential magazine based in SoHo that covered the downtown art scene. This was a strategic job for him; his plan, as he’d explained to Willem one night, was that he’d try to befriend one of the editors there and then convince him to feature him in the magazine. He estimated this taking about six months, which meant he had three more to go.JB wore a perpetual expression of mild disbelief while at his job, both that he should be working at all and that no one had yet thought to recognize his special genius. He was not a good receptionist. Although the phones rang more or less constantly, he rarely picked them up; when any of them wanted to get through to him (the cell phone reception in the building was inconsistent), they had to follow a special code of ringing twice, hanging up, and then ringing again. And even then he sometimes failed to answer--his hands were busy beneath his desk, combing and plaiting snarls of hair from a black plastic trash bag he kept at his feet.JB was going through, as he put it, his hair phase. Recently he had decided to take a break from painting in favor of making sculptures from black hair. Each of them had spent an exhausting weekend following JB from barbershop to beauty shop in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan, waiting outside as JB went in to ask the owners for any sweepings or cuttings they might have, and then lugging an increasingly awkward bag of hair down the street after him. His early pieces had included The Mace, a tennis ball that he had de-fuzzed, sliced in half, and filled with sand before coating it in glue and rolling it around and around in a carpet of hair so that the bristles moved like seaweed underwater, and “The Kwotidien,” in which he covered various household items--a stapler; a spatula; a teacup--in pelts of hair. Now he was working on a large-scale project that he refused to discuss with them except in snatches, but it involved the combing out and braiding together of many pieces in order to make one apparently endless rope of frizzing black hair. The previous Friday he had lured them over with the promise of pizza and beer to help him braid, but after many hours of tedious work, it became clear that there was no pizza and beer forthcoming, and they had left, a little irritated but not terribly surprised.They were all bored with the hair project, although Jude--alone among them--thought that the pieces were lovely and would someday be considered significant. In thanks, JB had given Jude a hair-covered hairbrush, but then had reclaimed the gift when it looked like Ezra’s father’s friend might be interested in buying it (he didn’t, but JB never returned the hairbrush to Jude). The hair project had proved difficult in other ways as well; another evening, when the three of them had somehow been once again conned into going to Little Italy and combing out more hair, Malcolm had commented that the hair stank. Which it did: not of anything distasteful but simply the tangy metallic scent of unwashed scalp. But JB had thrown one of his mounting tantrums, and had called Malcolm a self-hating Negro and an Uncle Tom and a traitor to the race, and Malcolm, who very rarely angered but who angered over accusations like this, had dumped his wine into the nearest bag of hair and gotten up and stamped out. Jude had hurried, the best he could, after Malcolm, and Willem had stayed to handle JB. And although the two of them reconciled the next day, in the end Willem and Jude felt (unfairly, they knew) slightly angrier at Malcolm, since the next weekend they were back in Queens, walking from barbershop to barbershop, trying to replace the bag of hair that he had ruined.“How’s life on the black planet?” Willem asked JB now.“Black,” said JB, stuffing the plait he was untangling back into the bag. “Let’s go; I told Annika we’d be there at one thirty.” The phone on his desk began to ring.“Don’t you want to get that?”“They’ll call back.”As they walked downtown, JB complained. So far, he had concentrated most of his seductive energies on a senior editor named Dean, whom they all called DeeAnn. They had been at a party, the three of them, held at one of the junior editor’s parents’ apartment in the Dakota, in which art-hung room bled into art-hung room. As JB talked with his coworkers in the kitchen, Malcolm and Willem had walked through the apartment together (Where had Jude been that night? Working, probably), looking at a series of Edward Burtynskys hanging in the guest bedroom, a suite of water towers by the Bechers mounted in four rows of five over the desk in the den, an enormous Gursky floating above the half bookcases in the library, and, in the master bedroom, an entire wall of Diane Arbuses, covering the space so thoroughly that only a few centimeters of blank wall remained at the top and bottom. They had been admiring a picture of two sweet-faced girls with Down syndrome playing for the camera in their too-tight, too-childish bathing suits, when Dean had approached them. He was a tall man, but he had a small, gophery, pockmarked face that made him appear feral and untrustworthy.They introduced themselves, explained that they were here because they were JB’s friends. Dean told them that he was one of the senior editors at the magazine, and that he handled all the arts coverage.“Ah,” Willem said, careful not to look at Malcolm, whom he did not trust not to react. JB had told them that he had targeted the arts editor as his potential mark; this must be him.“Have you ever seen anything like this?” Dean asked them, waving a hand at the Arbuses.“Never,” Willem said. “I love Diane Arbus.”Dean stiffened, and his little features seemed to gather themselves into a knot in the center of his little face. “It’s DeeAnn.”“What?”“DeeAnn. You pronounce her name ‘DeeAnn.’ ”They had barely been able to get out of the room without laughing. “DeeAnn!” JB had said later, when they told him the story. “Christ! What a pretentious little shit.”

Editorial Reviews

“Astonishing.” —The Atlantic“Deeply moving. . . . A wrenching portrait of the enduring grace of friendship.” —NPR   “Elemental, irreducible.” —The New Yorker   “Hypnotic. . . . An intimate, operatic friendship between four men.” —The Economist    “Capacious and consuming. . . . Immersive.” —The Boston Globe   “Beautiful.” —Los Angeles Times   “Exquisite. . . . It’s not hyperbole to call this novel a masterwork—if anything that word is simply just too little for it.” —San Francisco Chronicle“Remarkable. . . . 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. . . . A Little Life announces [Yanagihara] as a major American novelist.” —The Wall Street Journal“Utterly gripping. Wonderfully romantic and sometimes harrowing, A Little Life kept me reading late into the night, night after night.” —Edmund White   “Spellbinding . . . . An exquisitely written, complex triumph.” —O, The Oprah Magazine   “Drawn in extraordinary detail by incantatory prose. . . . Affecting and transcendent.” —The Washington Post“[A Little Life] lands with a real sense of occasion: the arrival of a major new voice in fiction. . . . Yanagihara’s achievement has less to do with size . . . than with the breadth and depth of its considerable power, which speaks not to the indomitability of the spirit, but to the fragility of the self.” —Vogue “Exquisite. . . . The book shifts from a generational portrait to something darker and more tender: an examination of the depths of human cruelty, counterbalanced by the restorative powers of friendship.” —The New Yorker “A book unlike any other. . . . A Little Life asks serious questions about humanism and euthanasia and psychiatry and any number of the partis pris of modern western life. . . . A devastating read that will leave your heart, like the Grinch’s, a few sizes larger.” —The Guardian “Exceedingly good.” —Newsweek “A Little Life is unlike anything else out there. Over the top, beyond the pale and quite simply unforgettable.” —The Independent “Piercing. . . . [Yanagihara is] an author with the talent to interrogate the basest and most beautiful extremes of human behaviour with sustained, bruising intensity.” —The Times Literary Supplement “A brave novel. . . . Impressive and moving.” —Literary Review “Enthralling and completely immersive. . . . Stunning.” —Daily News “An extraordinary book. . . . The truths it tells are wrenching, permanent.” —Evening Standard “A tragic love story. . . . A transformative experience, not soon forgotten.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune “Arresting. . . . An extraordinary work of fiction by a writer of tremendous insight. . . . Yanagihara has a keen, incisive eye.” —Irish Times “Epic in scope, riveting on every page.” —Bookforum “The most ambitious chronicle of the social and emotional lives of gay men to have emerged for many years.” —The Atlantic “A miracle. . . . Yanagihara’s most impressive trick is the way she glides from scenes filled with . . . terrifying hyenas to moments of epiphany.” —Newsday “Yanagihara achieves great psychological realism. . . . [A Little Life] seems to levitate out of history, edging towards the mythic or incredible.” —The Spectator “An American tragedy for our time, a haunting plea for redemption.” —Toronto Star “Devastating. . . . [A Little Life] has so much richness in it—great big passages of beautiful prose, unforgettable characters, and shrewd insights into art and ambition and friendship and forgiveness.” —Entertainment Weekly “A touching, eternal, unconventional love story. . . . A hymn to serious, lifelong friendship” —The Financial Times