A Little Preview of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Well this weekend I have been through the ringer. I have spent pretty much three days being thrilled, traumatised, horrified, weeping with joy, weeping with rage, just weeping and all in all being completely thrown about by an emotional rollercoaster in book form. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduced you to Hanya Yangihara’s second novel A Little Life, which everyone seems to be going bonkers for over in America…

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Having now read it, I can completely see why. It ruined me. Now some people might think that is a bad thing but frankly I believe being ruined by a book now and again is good for the soul, plus from all the cracks you can see in the spine (I know, I know – but it was so heavy) you can see that there were several moments where I ruined it too, in a loving way.  So why am I not instantly tapping my little fingers off writing a post now and just giving you an update, good question, I have two reasons behind this. Firstly, the book isn’t out in the UK until August. Secondly and more importantly, I really, really need to let this book settle with me as there is so much to talk about and also I need to put myself back together after it broke me for the fourth or fifth time at almost midnight last night when I finished it.

I was on the blower to that Catherine Hall earlier and we were swapping book suggestions (she is reading Marion Coutt’s The Iceberg about her time with her husband when he was terminally ill with a brain tumour as Granny Savidge was, so I am umming and ahhing about it) and I couldn’t encapsulate it. My exact words were… ‘It is a book about someone who has a tragic and difficult life and those who come in and out of that life for good or bad, yet it is also a book about love, grief, art, culture, sexuality, abuse, society, class, joy, despair, friendship, family, education, New York and more.’  Yep, that is a lot to think about and try and compress into book thoughts of any kind, though as you will see I have put many a page marker throughout. (Purple for bits that made me think or were amazingly written, grey for where the publisher had noted particular prose highlights, blue for where I cried – some a small weep, some ugly crying –  I can’t remember what the orange one was for!) So I need to let it all sink in a bit more, I felt like I had a book hangover this morning.

Anyway, I thought I would tell you so that if you can get it then do, if you can’t get it then pre-order it and if you have read it let me know. My thoughts in full in a month or two, it’ll take me about that long to get over it all… Then I might just be able to pick up her debut.

14 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Hanya Yanagihara

14 responses to “A Little Preview of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

  1. O wow! I have a copy of this …was feeling ever so slightly intimidated by its size …but can’t wait to get started now !

  2. Would you look at the size of that book! Sounds fantastic though.

  3. Clearly, not that little a life! I do want to read this one at some point, but need to finish another doorstopper, Tale of Genji, first.

  4. r s pateman

    Finished it a week ago and I can’t see it letting me go any time soon. It’s brutal, tender, all consuming. All the more astonishing for being written in 18 months whilst holding down a leading role at Conde Nast Traveller! I’ve never read a better book about male friendship. I doubt I ever will.

  5. Can’t believe what Rob’s just said – incredible! I have it on my Kindle (that way my ridiculous amount of books are partly hidden from Mr C!) and I’m looking forward to it, after all I’ve read about it – I just hope it’s accessible enough that I a) keep reading once I start; and b) keep going until the end. It’s some size!

    • r s pateman

      Reading on Kindle will certainly spare your wrists getting a prolonged work out. It’s heavy! In every sense. And yet also light and uplifting. Accessible too – it’s a non linear narrative but each part is easy to pick up and has intriguing details and clues that make you want to read on. And the characters themselves will make you want to continue too. Be interesting to see what you make of it.

      • Thanks Rob! Sometimes when it comes to books I’m a bit self-conscious of the fact I didn’t finish my degree (not that it was in Eng Lit anyway!) Sounds good. And just as well it’s not out until August – I might’ve finished it by then!

  6. As I’ve said before, I can’t imagine I’ll read a better book in 2015 and it instantly made it into my top ten list ever (quite possibly my top five, but for that I’ll need to let it sit). Absolutely astonishing that a book that goes as dark as this one does can also be filled with such transcending moments of joy and love and kindness and … I don’t know how she did it.

    I read it in March, and this past week I finally sat down to read her first novel and I’d never believe they were written by the same person. It was well-done (exceedingly well-crafted) and decidedly odd. Unlike A Little Life, it didn’t contain any characters I wanted to be friends with, and it also wasn’t the kind of book I wanted to go on for 800 pages. I remember how with A Little Life, at the point it first made me cry (perhaps 300 pages in?) I thought to myself how very lucky I was that I had several hundred pages more to enjoy the book.

  7. If you get over it in a month or two, you’ll be in better shape than I am! I read it in December and I’m just now getting over my reading hangover. Absolutely incredible.

  8. Elizabeth

    I keep seeing this at my library and keep saying, “I’ll get to it next week,” and I never do. Perhaps now I should.

  9. Michael F.

    Ah yes….now I am recalling where I had heard this book mentioned. It was on the Books on the Nightstand podcast and Ann (one of the co-hosts) was discussing why readers are attracted to dark, upsetting, sad books.

    Methinks I will take a pass on this one for now. Having experienced a fair amount of tragedy over the years (yes, I am old) I read to escape. To escape from the harshness, the boredom, the crassness of contemporary life. I’m at at a point where I really only want to read fiction. I’m just not interested in memoirs about training hawks, biographies of world statesmen, histories or most of what is showing up on the non-fiction lists nowadays.

  10. It’s been waiting on my shelf for a couple of weeks now. I’ve been waiting to finish my online writing course to start it. It will be finished in 3 more weeks but I’m hesitating about picking it up now. To be continued….

  11. Pingback: A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara | Savidge Reads

  12. Ronnie Lathrop

    I like what you said about the fairy-tale like quality of the work. The destruction of Jude and the evil he faced is like that of a heroine in a Grimm’s tale, and like a true Grimm tale, no happy endings here. So good. I made my husband read it, but he didn’t love it nearly as much as I did.

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