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Een klein leven by Hanya Yanagihara
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Een klein leven (original 2015; edition 2019)

by Hanya Yanagihara, Josephine Ruitenberg, Kitty Pouwels

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,9082761,795 (4.1)1 / 260
"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)
Member:Baukis
Title:Een klein leven
Authors:Hanya Yanagihara
Other authors:Josephine Ruitenberg, Kitty Pouwels
Info:[Amsterdam] Nieuw Amsterdam 2019
Collections:e-book, Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:vriendschap, misbruik, New York, my favourite!!

Work Information

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (2015)

  1. 10
    The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Another group of lifelong friends followed over the decades.
  2. 00
    Das mangelnde Licht (German Edition) by Nino Haratischwili (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Gewaltige Romane mit Freundschaften im Mittelpunkt.
  3. 00
    The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother's Milk, and At Last by Edward St. Aubyn (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Another book about child abuse, although this one is also about substance abuse.
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» See also 260 mentions

English (254)  Dutch (11)  German (3)  Catalan (2)  Piratical (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (275)
Showing 1-5 of 254 (next | show all)
Two days after reading A Little Life and I am still not sure where to begin. I enjoyed the writing style, the back and forth of perspectives, experiencing the passing of time from various characters really brought them to life. Downside to that is sometimes it took a little to realize where in the timeline you were and who you were with.

I want to rate this 5 stars for the world built around me, for the emotion it created within me. I am left wondering about (and missing) Jude, Harold, and Willem.

I want to rate it one star for the neverending cruelty. A Little Life is aptly named; it's unfair, cruel, beautiful, it is love. In short - it is A Little Life.

5 stars because I can not stop thinking of this book. I know beyond a doubt I will reread and that is rare for me. ( )
  NicholeReadsWithCats | Jun 17, 2022 |
How do I hate this book, let me count the ways. I hate the pretentious writing, the author's dedicated lack of research, the bloated, overblown length of the repetitive text, the bandwagon that everyone jumped on, the hype generated by the bandwagon - which I fell for - and first and foremost, I HATE JUDE ST FRANCIS, a protagonist so miserable that he can't even put his friends (and the readers of this obnoxious published fan fiction) out of their misery by ending his life far flaming sooner than he did.

If there was such a thing as compensation for badly written books, I would be claiming back the week I wasted with Jude and his exaggerated, ongoing life of trauma, and also suing for damages because my reading mojo nearly flatlined. Ploughing through section after section of Jude apologising for existing while simultaneously being successful at every task he turned his giant brain to became old pretty quickly but by the time I realised that I should DNF, I was too far in to quit - not that I thought the story would pick up, only that I had already wasted hours getting up to the halfway point of OVER 700 PAGES! Why did this book need to be so long when Jude whining like a bitch is the only thing that ever happens? Even his three close college friends rarely get a look in, or develop believable personalities. Willem is an award-winning actor, JB is the toast of the New York art scene (despite only ever painting the portraits of his three friends) and Malcolm is a innovative architect, but all they have in common is fawning over Jude.

Jude himself is like the fantasy hero of a teenager's over-emotive Wattpad fiction. Putting aside his backstory of abuse so overwrought that the slow drip-drip of details is both comic and yet painfully insulting to actual survivors of childhood sexual and physical assault, he is described - ad nauseum - as both devastatingly handsome and universally talented. In the words of Willem:

“You’re a swimmer. You’re a baker. You’re a cook. You’re a reader. You have a beautiful voice, though you never sing anymore. You’re an excellent pianist. You’re an art collector."

He's also a brilliant mathematician and a cutthroat lawyer who instantly rises to the top of the firm he joins despite spending half of his professional life recovering from some physical or mental trauma. And everybody loves him! That should actually have been the title of this book: 'Everybody Loves Jude: Though God Knows Why'. Willem, his chick magnet best friend falls in love with him, an older couple legally adopt him when he's in his thirties, the parents of his friends all love him more than their own children, his doctor practically dedicates his career to being on call 24/7 (while betraying his professional duty to report self harm and get the little brat committed).

And yet. Does this sudden good fortune after a childhood of being abused by everyone from predatory paedophiles to Franciscan monks make Jude happy, or even independent and resilient? Not a chance! He is an emotional vampire who drains every drop of love and care out of his friends and adopted family, while selfishly proclaiming that he hurts himself and deceives others to protect them from the 'truth' about who he is:

"I’m sorry I’m such a problem for you. I’m sorry I’m ruining your retirement. I’m sorry I’m not happier. I’m sorry I’m not over Willem. I’m sorry I have a job you don’t respect. I’m sorry I’m such a nothing of a person."

Sorry, sorry, sorry. I wanted to end him myself after 300 pages of incessant whining. Harold and Julia are nothing but loving, Willem - despite, you know, forcing Jude to have sex because everyone needs sex, right? - constantly puts his high-flying celebrity on hold to mop up after Jude cuts himself to ribbons, Dr Andy spends thirty years patching him up when he should have had him locked up. I took great delight in the isolated moments where first JB, then Andy and finally Willem all snapped and told Jude what they thought of his shitty attitude. Of course, such brutal honesty was only answered with five paragraphs of 'sorry, sorry, sorry'.

Yes, abuse is horrific, but Yanagihara - who admitted that she didn't do any serious research into the sensitive issues of Jude's story - is hardly helping to raise positive awareness about the reality of surviving such trauma. Neither does her frankly homophobic attitude to the lgbt characters in the book make this a 'great gay novel' - Willem falls in love with Jude, outs their relationship while refusing to comprehend how Jude's past might make him fear intimacy, and then announces that he is 'not fundamentally' gay and goes back to sleeping with women.

I hated every page of this novel, finally started skim-reading to get through the never-ending misery and have now deleted the download entirely from my Kindle. I wish I could do the same for my brain. The only positive note I can add is that the edition with the melodramatic, cry baby man's face is the most appropriate cover art I have seen all year. Really, all l I can do is echo the advice I recently read in another less than glowing review: 'If you haven't read this, then don't'. ( )
1 vote AdonisGuilfoyle | Jun 6, 2022 |
Extremely written and executed. Horrifically sad, no dry eye in the house. I do believe she could have profited from a very good edit. At times I found that she got way into the weeds and minutia and cleaning it up some would have improved it overall. Overall, an extremely good read. ( )
  LeahWiederspahn | Jun 2, 2022 |
I read this book quickly the first time, liked it ok. Read it again for a book club and found out I was one of those people who this book does not work on. Found that frustrating. ( )
  sirk.bronstad | Apr 20, 2022 |
An incredible book: ambitious, honest, beautifully written and immensely moving. It’s famed for how hard it is to read, not because the language is dense (the pages actually fly by), but because many of the events described are so difficult to witness. Unlike some other books I’ve read with similar reputations (Jack Ketchum’s ‘The Girl Next Door’ and Jerzy Kosinski’s ‘The Painted Bird’ spring to mind), ‘A Little Life’ grips because of its central humanity. As torturous as it often felt to read, I cared so much about the characters that I couldn’t not see their story through to its conclusion. It’s a horrific but beautiful book. Impossible to recommend because it is so hard, and yet everyone should read it because it’s so good. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 254 (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)
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yanagihara, Hanyaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Briasco, LucaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hujar, PeterCover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kessler, TorbenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kleiner, Stephan JohannÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pouwels, KittyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruitenberg, JosephineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Webb, CardonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyman, OliverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Piper (30870)
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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.
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"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.

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