“things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully”.
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life
I have tried (and failed) for many years to write a review that entirely encapsulates the beauty of A Little Life.
I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible.
Very rarely do I come across a book that remains with me for longer than a few months. Often, within a few weeks, plot lines begin to fade from memory and characters all but vanish; they become books I have on my shelf, vaguely remembered and almost forgotten. However, Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life is not one of these books. Having read it over three years ago on a solo trip to Madrid in January, characters remain as vivid and alive in my memory as though I finished it yesterday. Haunting, beautiful and tragic, A Little Life is a once in a generation novel, a novel that’s impression can never be adequately described in a review that I have attempted so many times to write.
Centred round four recently graduated friends in New York and spanning decades, Yanighara’s epic novel navigates the friendship of these four men as their relationships deepen and darken. Whilst Willem chases his acting dreams, Malcom begins his career as a frustrated architect at a prominent firm and JB seeks entry into the New York art world, it is with the troubled lawyer Jude that the novel tracks its course through the decades. Scarred by childhood trauma and increasingly more haunted by a past he feels incapable of overcoming, the novel navigates each characters’ relationship with Jude and each other. As their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success and pain, the reader is taken on a journey that is heartbreakingly beautiful in its raw depictions of love, loss and grief. Yanagihara’s prose is unashamedly raw in its emotional intensity; it is at times entirely overwhelming and yet it is also compulsively readable.
In an age where male mental health remains a taboo subject for many, A Little Life remains a novel that is both as culturally important as it is literary.
Written by Steph Reeves
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