A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: a bittersweet symphony


It’s so hard to write about this novel. I’ll start from the beginning.

A Little Life, written by Hanya Yanagihara, was published in 2015. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won The Kirkus Prize. This book has also been described as ‘the long-awaited gay novel’ and it became a bestseller.

When I started A Little Life, I loved it. I couldn’t put it down and I was always blabbing about this book. I knew from the beginning that I wouldn’t recommend this novel to everyone due to themes it explores, but I would suggest it to people I knew. It was so good that I thought to myself: ‘You’re still in February, but A Little Life will be one of the greatest books you’ll read in 2018″.

I’ve always loved novels which focus on personal growth and follows the lives of several characters. Apparently, this was the case of this book. There was Jude, a lawyer; Willem, an actor; Malcolm, an architect; and JB, an artist. All of them were interesting and had a different background.

So, the first part of the book was great and I thought it would be a 5-star read for me. I loved the language. I’ve been reading that some readers found it presumptuous, but I disagree. There were so many good passages. It was simples, but poetic. It was accessible, but excellent. Although I didn’t relate to any of the characters, I thought they were well-built. None of them were good, none of them were bad. They were flawed people. Some of them were looking to be loved, to belong and to be happy; others were trying to survive, trying to overcome their ghosts.

When I was halfway through the novel, I changed my opinion. Some readers and Yanagihara herself, I believe, said that A Little Life is a book about friendship. I disagree. It’s a book about feelings, fear and anxiety. Suddenly, Malcolm and JB had no relevance; Willem was playing a secondary character and all the plot revolved around Jude. If, at first, his childhood trauma seemed plausible, all of a sudden it was just too much. I hope such a person doesn’t exist. For God’s sake. It would be awful if someone had no rest in life. I don’t want to spoil anything, but he went through it all. All that you can imagine, all that it’s horrible, well, it happened to him. That’s when you know Yanagihara is there, leading the troops; you couldn’t forget the author and her power.

Lastly, I think the book could have been way shorter and I also have a question: where are the women in this book? It’s all about men.

So, to answer my question – why should you read this book – I would say that if you’re patient and have time in your hands, this is an interesting novel. It explores peculiar themes and Yanagihara had the courage to write about pain, self-harm and anxiety. I would like to point out that it’s not an easy read on many levels and if you’re sensitive, think twice before picking it.

“He was tired, he was tired. It was taking so much energy to hold the beasts off.”

Book Details:

English Edition:
Publisher: Anchor Books
Published on: January 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 816
Price: $17.00

Edição Portuguesa:
Título: Uma Vida Pequena
Editora: Record (Brasil)
Data de Publicação: ——–
Formato: Capa mole
Páginas: 784
Preço: R$ 77,90

Captura de ecrã 2017-10-24, às 15.45.06

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