A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara - 2016 - 720 Pages
“A Little Life: The Great Gay Novel Might Be Here-
Hanya Yanagihara’s novel is an astonishing and ambitious chronicle of queer life in America.” From The Atlantic
A Little Life is a very powerful work, a work to stay with you for a long time.
The novel focuses on four men who met while attending a college in Massachusetts. They move to New York City to seek their future. In The group are Malcolm, an architectural student from a very wealthy biracial family. JB is a painter of Hatian descent hoping to establish himself in the art world, and Willem, an aspiring actor. The central figure in A Little Life is Jude, who grows to become one of highest regarded attorneys in the City. Like Willem, he is an orphan. Jude and Willem share an apartment after graduation. Jude’s early life history and ethnic background are at first veiled in shadows. Jude has serious health issues. In the gradually evolving account of the life of Jude before he reached college a horribly painful long drawn out we learn of sixteen years of sexual abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers who run the orphanage.
Jude does very well in his law practice. His friends obtain great success also.
At age thirty a Professor who was his mentor, Harold, in law school, along with his wife, adopts Jude. As close as he is to his three friends, June cannot begin to tell his friends sbout his years of abuse.
The novel goes into great depth treating the evolving relationships of the four friends. Jude’s health gets worse, he has been cutting himself, mostly on his legs, for years. We see how Jude struggles to cope with the impact of years of abuse on his life.
A Little Life is a work of great depth. It may become an LGTBQ classic. It is not an easy to read feel good book. I highly endorse this work. It deserves all the praise it has gotten.
The novel swiches points of view among the friends, Harold, and an omiscient narrator.
There is a very good essay on why A Little Life is a great work about being a Gay man in America in The Atlantic.
A very good interview in Electric Literature
I hope to read her first book The People in The Trees soon.