Monday, 24 August 2015

A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara

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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity.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

I have to be honest and confess - I'm not very good at literary fiction. I read The Luminaries, and thought it was OK. I read The Goldfinch and enjoyed it more than The Luminaries but it didn't blow me away. So, when I heard that this has been long listed for the Book Prize, I nearly didn't pick it up, purely because I just didn't think it would be as good as the hype said it would be. 
I was so wrong. This book is astoundingly beautiful, whilst harrowing, it ripped the heart out of me. Not only is the writing exquisite, the characters are so flawless. I became emotionally attached to all of them (even JB), and my tears at the end were not just for the events that took place, but also at the loss of the characters. It's not often I re-read books - my TBR pile just doesn't allow it -  but after finishing this book a week ago, I am ready to re-read it again, just to absorb it's impact if nothing else.
It's not for the faint-hearted - it touches on some very strong issues that may be too much for some readers, but I don't regret picking it up one single bit. 
This is definitely a top contender for my book of the year, and after reading it on my kindle I have already purchased my hardcover copy, to sit on my bookshelf and be re-read again and again. 

A Little Life is out now and you can get it here:

**MY thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my ARC**

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