A Little Life
October 5, 2016 12:34 AM - by Hanya Yanagihara - Subscribe

After a profoundly abusive childhood, Jude St. Francis struggles to thrive in a cosmopolitan world.

Weighing in at 720 pages, A Little Life proved an unlikely bestseller. It was on the shortlist for the 2015 Booker Prize and was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Sam Sacks said that the book "announces [author Hanya Yanagihara], as decisively as a second work can, as a major American novelist."
posted by zeusianfog (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I liked the book and as I was reading it i couldn't put it down. I even cried a few times. After reading it, I started thinking more about it, and it started to seem a little torture-porn to me. How many bad things can happen to this one guy? Also, I felt like the romance between Jude and the previously straight Willem seemed to come out of nowhere, and it was forced. I didn't really buy that part of the book, even as I was reading it. I'm honestly surprised it's up for so many literary awards.

Still, I did enjoy it enough to pick up The People in the Trees, her previous book. Does this lady write about anything besides the abuse of little boys?
posted by foxonisland at 2:57 PM on October 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Last December I made a mega-post about A Little Life on the blue. Lots of interesting articles/reviews worth clicking on.

I'd share how I feel about the book again, but I'm not sure I have the strength for it. I had such an emotional response to this work. It's a wonderful read and easily one of the best books I've read in the last 5 years, but I'm not certain that I'll be able to go back and re-read it for another 10.

A small note: this book is not for everyone, very divisive in the way it examines certain issues: homosexuality, abuse, mental health, depression, etc.
posted by Fizz at 4:57 PM on October 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Okay so I am a terrible person for starting this thread and then walking away and forgetting about it for days BUT I just finished this book the day before I posted and man, is it powerful! I am surprised that the reaction of so many reviewers and MeFites is that it's unbelievable, but part of my surprise might be because I give myself so wholly over to any book I read. Another factor is that while the extremity of Jude's trials may not be believable, his emotional response to them is 1000% believable, and I say that as a survivor of abuse. This is one of those books that I had to parcel out very gingerly in the interest of self-care. Thank you for that wonderful, comprehensive post, Fizz--clearly I am just catching up on the hot books of 2015.
posted by zeusianfog at 2:54 PM on October 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just finished it today, having read almost half of it just yesterday. I couldn't put it down, partly I think because Jude's feelings about himself in light of his past were so familiar (though much, much worse in his case, fortunately). It felt more like catharsis than torture porn to me.
posted by hollyholly at 12:11 PM on December 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

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