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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
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A Little Life (2015)

by Hanya Yanagihara

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,7601943,165 (4.09)1 / 215
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English (182)  Dutch (6)  Piratical (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (192)
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
When four classmates 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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity.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 realise, 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. ( )
  PaulavanWijmen | Apr 10, 2019 |
Incredible skill in the writing - admirable sustain of a tormented, beleaguered voice. In the end, i can't stomach the extent of the violence, in the sense that it felt more like pornography than seemed necessary to make an impact in the story. ( )
  deeEhmm | Apr 3, 2019 |
Oh boy. I wonder if I can think about this book again to write this review without sobbing halfway through.

Despite its vastness (720 pages), if you haven't read it I feel that I don't want to give you any clues whatsoever as to what it's about. I don't want to spoil a single page for anyone else (and incidentally, those 700 odd pages galloped past faster than plenty of 200 page novels I've read). All I will say is that it's beautiful, harrowing, joyful and heartbreaking in equal measures. It's a book of extremities - the worst of life, the best of life, and the unending depths of love.

Who would like this book? Well, I'm tempted to say anyone who has something ticking inside them. (And if you read it and don't sob ridiculously at some point I'd suggest you pull that little ticker out of your chest and give it a shake to check it's still working). This is a book that will squeeze out every last bit of emotion from you. That it can do that and sustain itself for so many pages says everything about the quality of the writing.

That's me done. I'm too emotionally depleted to think of anything else. Just read it.

5 stars - lock yourself away for a few days with a large box of tissues and prepare to be very moved. ( )
  AlisonY | Apr 2, 2019 |
Heartbreaking, almost pornographically miserable but also joyous and kind and wonderful.

Impossible to read without weeping for Jude St. Francis and Willem. But it is the quality of the writing which will last beyond the sadness of the story. There is a Tolstovian precision to the laying out of genuine frailties and human goodness. Every terrible bit of back story is met with the greatest imaginable compassion and love. It would be lovely to believe that man's inhumanity to man was sometimes balanced by man's humanity to his friends. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
this was like if a good author wrote a vc andrews book. so absurd that i found myself cracking up at points where i was supposed to be disturbed/devastated. how much is she going to put this dude through? i'm a gay person with an extremely traumatic childhood and mine looked like disney world compared to this book. ( )
  prunetracy | Mar 10, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
I'm still talking about A Little Life. It's deeply upsetting, but I think it's a wonderfull story in the end.
added by Sylak | editStylist [Issue 338], Paula Hawkins (Oct 12, 2016)
 
Hanya Yanagihara schrijft in Een klein leven duidelijk voor haar lezer, ze manipuleert je met perfect getimede overgangen: van feel good naar feel bad en terug. Alle personages hebben maar één eigenschap, het zijn sjablonen. Ergerlijk. En toch weet het boek iets te raken.
 
In the end, her novel is little more than a machine designed to produce negative emotions for the reader to wallow in—unsurprisingly, the very emotions that, in her Kirkus Reviews interview, she listed as the ones she was interested in, the ones she felt men were incapable of expressing: fear, shame, vulnerability. Both the tediousness of A Little Life and, you imagine, the guilty pleasures it holds for some readers are those of a teenaged rap session, that adolescent social ritual par excellence, in which the same crises and hurts are constantly rehearsed.
 
Je kunt je afvragen waarom de mensen rond Jude St. Francis zoveel kunnen houden van iemand die hen steeds weer door de vingers glipt, die zijn geschiedenis verborgen houdt en die een bron is van zorgen en frustraties. Tot je merkt dat je zelf die liefde bent gaan voelen, inclusief de angst die erbij hoort. Het verraadt dat in A Little Life iets wezenlijks wordt aangeraakt.
added by Jozefus | editNRC Handelsblad, Auke Hulst (Sep 14, 2015)
 
Yanagihara’s success in creating a deeply afflicted protagonist is offset by placing him in a world so unrealized it almost seems allegorical, with characters so flatly drawn they seem more representative of people than the actual thing. This leaves the reader, at the end, wondering if she has been foolish for taking seriously something that was merely a contrivance all along.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Carol Anshaw (Mar 30, 2015)
 
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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People/Characters
Important places
Important events
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Jared Hohlt
in friendship; with love
First words
The 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.
Quotations
"I know you're tired," Brother Luke had said. "It's normal; you're growing. It's tiring work, growing. And I know you work hard. But Jude, when you're with your clients, you have to show a little life; they're paying to be with you, you know – you have to show them you're enjoying it."

De verwijzing naar de titel van het boek is in de Nederlandse vertaling verdwenen:

'Ik weet dat je moe bent,' had broeder Luke gezegd. 'Dat is normaal; je bent in de groei. Groeien is een vermoeiende klus. En ik weet dat je hard werkt. Maar Jude, als je met je klanten bent, moet je wel een beetje energiek zijn; ze betalen ervoor om met je naar bed te gaan, weet je… Je moet ze laten zien dat je het fijn vindt.'
The trick of friendship, I think, is to find people 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.
He would have turned down Rhode's invitation; he would have kept living his little life; he would have never known the difference.
If you love home — and even if you don't — there is nothing quite as cozy, as comfortable, as delightful, as that first week back. That week, even the things that would irritate you — the alarm waahing from some car at three in the morning; the pigeons who come to clutter and click on the windowsill behind your bed when you're trying to sleep in — seem instead reminders of your own permanence, of how life, your life, will always graciously allow you to step back inside it, no matter how far you have gone away from it or how long you have left it.
Last words
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Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385539258, Hardcover)

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. Truly an amazement—and a great gift for its publisher.
 
When four classmates 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 rich and resplendent 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:57 -0400)

"When four classmates 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 ... Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is [their center of gravity] Jude, ... 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"--Amazon.com.… (more)

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