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Brilliant,
Beautiful,
Epic

2 reviews

A Little Life: A Novel
by Hanya Yanagihara

Published: 2015-03-10
Hardcover : 720 pages
29 members reading this now
30 clubs reading this now
6 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 2 members
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

SHORT-LISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE

Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction ...
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Introduction

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

SHORT-LISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE

Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement—and a great gift for its readers.
 
When four classmates 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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.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.
 
In rich and resplendent prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. Why the title, A Little Life? Certainly Jude's life is hardly insignificant or small. Here's what Hanya Yanagihara said when asked by Newsweek if the title is ironic: "All life is small.... Life will end in death and unhappiness, but we do it anyway." The Newsweek interviewer referred to the author's view of life as tragic and futile. Does that make it small? What do you think?

2. An editor once advised Yanagihara to trim the amount of time spent on Jude's childhood, arguing that concentrating so heavily on his physical and psychological deprivations would repulse readers. Yanagihara refused to cut. What do you think? Should she have trimmed the sections? How difficult or painful were those passages for you?

3. Talk about the four main characters: Willem, JB, and Malcolm, as well as Jude. How are they similar, how are they different, and what is behind the strength of their long-lasting friendships? How would you compare their male friendship to those among women?

4. A Little Life focuses heavily on the inner lives of its characters, with very little attention paid to exterior surroundings. Do you feel the interiority slows the book down, makes it drag in parts? Or do you find the inward focus enriches the story, making it compelling, even enthralling?

5. Were you disappointed with the lack of central, well-developed female characters? Yanagihara, again in Newsweek, said that “men are offered a much, much smaller emotional vocabulary to work with,” which makes them more challenging to write about. Women, on the other hand, have a well-trod emotional landscape and are less interesting to her as a writer. What are your thoughts?

--From Litlovers

Suggested by Members

Friendship?
by gazzingo (see profile) 02/02/17

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

"Four male college friends navigate adulthood in this gripping novel, which explores both the long reach of childhood trauma and the balm to be found in everyday pleasures, in particular the many varieties of love. Sometimes shockingly dark yet somehow never depressing, it's extraordinary."--People Magazine--Best Books of 2015 (#1)

Book Club Recommendations

Grilled cheese sandwiches, Thanksgiving food?
by gazzingo (see profile) 02/02/17

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by Pitcairn (see profile) 03/03/17

 
  "A Little Life: A Novel"by gazzingo (see profile) 02/02/17

Difficult to read at times and yet very compelling. The main character has suffered horrendously while growing up. An amazing story of friendship, love, betrayal, violence. An amazing, gut wrencing... (read more)

 
by misspageturner (see profile) 01/07/17

 
by ellenlaine (see profile) 11/07/16

 
  "Beautifully written story about four college roommates and their lives!"by thewanderingjew (see profile) 04/01/16

I can’t say enough about this book. It is a very intense, but extremely well-written 800+ page book that requires stamina and emotional strength to read and digest, but it is so well worth... (read more)

 
  "A Little Life"by Books1 (see profile) 03/09/16

Beautifully written and phenomenal friendships!

 
by Books1 (see profile) 03/09/16

 
by dswillob (see profile) 03/09/16

 
  "I Might Recommend It"by page.turner (see profile) 02/19/16

This book WAS beautifully written and brought some understanding to the dark world of those to whom abuse has caused mental illness. I might recommend it to someone who craves understanding the psychie.... (read more)

 
  "A Little Life"by Fhutchins (see profile) 02/19/16

Very well written but too repetitive.

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