A Little Life The Million-Copy Bestseller

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From the Publisher

a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador

a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador

a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador

a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador

A little lifeA little life

a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador

a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador

a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador a little life, man booker shortlisted, Hanya Yanagihara, picador

Additional information

ASIN ‏ : ‎


Publisher ‏ : ‎

Picador; Main Market edition (10 Mar. 2017)

Language ‏ : ‎


Paperback ‏ : ‎

736 pages

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎


ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎


Reading age ‏ : ‎

18 years and up

Dimensions ‏ : ‎

13.1 x 4.6 x 19.7 cm

Best Sellers Rank:

48 in Psychological Fiction (Books)

Customer reviews:


10 reviews for A Little Life The Million-Copy Bestseller

  1. Rakib

    A Little Life, a 700-page journey, by Hanya Yanagihara is the second 2015 Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel I have read; the first was The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota. Both of these novels I have read in 10 days, with A Little Life taking 6 – a testament to the quality of the novels.But, how do I begin with this review? Will my review do justice to this novel, and to what Hanya Yanagihara has achieved?First, the author’s writing style makes this book, despite its size, very readable. For example: “They bragged of what they would be doing if they hadn’t gone into this wretched industry: they’d be a curator (possibly the one job where’d you make even less than you did now), a sommelier (well, make that two jobs), a gallery owner (make it three), a writer (all right, four – clearly none of them were equipped to make money, ever, in any imagining).” Even though I’ve described this book as “readable”, that doesn’t mean the book lacks in quality prose; the novel is almost poetic; it rolls off your tongue whilst making your imagination go wild, whether it be through rich, descriptive scenes or honing on particular qualities of a character within the novel. Of course, this also means the book is subtly humorous, with lines beginning like: “There was a bathroom (unspeakable) and a kitchen (slightly less horrifying)…” Some reviewers have said that the length of the novel is too long and they have had to skip pages. For me, I was so engrossed with the novel that this wasn’t that much of an issue (though, I did skip the odd paragraph once in a while)This novel, ultimately, revolves around a man called Jude St. Francis. Don’t be mistaken, his fate has been devastatingly cruel to him. From abandonment, to (extreme) physical and sexual abuse, including (again, extreme) domestic violence, to self-harm, Jude’s life has been one that, when you read it, you will have to put the book down just give yourself a breather. But the skill of Hanya Yanagihara is such that there is never anything crude, explicit or too graphic: the writing speaks for itself.Despite the cruel unfolding and slow revelation of past events, present horrors, and future uncertainties, there were some really touching moments, I thought, in the novel too. Actually, they were jam-packed with touching moments. But, (again) the talent of Hanya Yanagihara is such that these moments didn’t feel excessive or repetitive. They just flowed naturally. An example of one of these touching moments is when Jude is sleeping over at Harold’s, one of his professors and for whom he’s a research assistant for, and whilst in bed at his home, Jude “…pretended that they [Harold and Julia] were his parents, and he was home for the weekend from law school to visit them, and this was his room, and the next day he would get up and do whatever it was that grown children did with their parents.” This, of course, to someone who has not read this novel is meaningless. But to someone who has, it is profound. And the simple-ness of this line is deceptive; it doesn’t really convey to you the emotional weight it carries (guess you have to read the novel to understand why I am saying this, right?)However, now that I have finished the novel, I must say, it is over the top (or it might not be? Do read on with the review to understand my confusion). The things Jude has been through, I’m finding it so hard to believe that one person could have been through so much (or is that my relatively sheltered life speaking?). How can someone like Jude have been through the terrible events that have marked his life, and yet carry on surviving? Not only surviving, but being surrounded by loving, devoted people and having a hugely successful career? Heck, by half way through the book, I was surprised every time Jude smiled or laughed! Or is this what this book is saying? That is, the power of human resolve; the effect of love, friendship, and meaningful relationships? And when one person has these things, no matter what they have been though in life, they can, still, smile. Jude’s self-harming is also something that baffles me. As someone who hasn’t been around people who self-harm (or know anything regarding the psychology of it), I just don’t know if the book is over the top with the self-harming, or are there people out there whose lives are like Jude?Ultimately, for me, what this book is, is a sad, but honorable (and at time humorous and heart-warming), tale of friendship, heart-break, sorrow, regret, happiness, meaning, relationships, and life (and so much more!). Never in my life, so far, have I wished for a fictional character (am I crazy?) so much happiness and contentment. Though the book ended in a rather predictable way, it feels as though to me it is the only ending that would of made Jude happy; an ending that he needed, and maybe the reader wanted because you grow to care for Jude as much as Willem, or Harold, Andy, Julia, Richard, JB, and countless more.I will be surprised if someone reads this novel, and doesn’t reflect upon their own life, and, perhaps, even change the way in which they go about treating others. And isn’t this the best testament to how great a novel is? By how much a novel mpacts YOU.

  2. Bookliterati

    Every year I look at the Booker Prize shortlist and buy a couple of books from it, and frequently I read the winning book as well. A Little Life was on the shortlist in 2015 and has been sitting on my shelf for two years, until my break in August when I decided to actually read it, and it was well worth the wait. This is one of those books that will surely go down as a modern classic, it is so brilliant. The plot follows four friends who meet at college through life’s up and downs and personal tragedies; JB an artists, Malcolm an architect, Willem an actor and Jude a lawyer.  Jude is the glue to this group, and is the main focus of the narrative. There are a few chapters narrated in the first person by Willem and Harold, who is Jude’s law professor, mentor and the nearest thing to a father her has.The writing of this book is sublime in its language and Hanya Yanagihara is able to write plot lines, that in some parts are harrowing, in a beautiful and lyrical  way.  I actually found her prose hypnotic, I was drawn into this book and couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page.  There are lots of difficult issues discussed in this book, rape, abuse, suicide, drug abuse, and many more but still I was entranced by this book.  Hanaya Yanagihara shows a great understanding, intelligence and empathy towards these subjects.  Her characterisation is again wonderful, with all her characters so true to life that at times I felt like I was reading a biography/autobiography rather than a piece of fiction. In a way A Little Life is a dark Fairytale with good, evil and romance at its centre.Jude is the main character in A Little Life, and all the other character’s stories are all linked to his.  In all my years of reading I don’t think I have ever come across a character as damaged psychologically and physically as Jude.  When we first meet him in the book we know he has physical problems and throughout the book his past is gradually revealed to the reader.  Jude has experienced the best and worst of humanity through his life, and seen love in many guises from destructive love to the love of friendship that is all encompassing.  Even though his story is hard to read in places, I found him a compelling character who I was really down to and wanted him to find happiness.  Willem is the person whom he is closest to, a friendship that is unconditional and intense in places; it is Willem that is there for Jude at some of his lowest moments.  Malcolm is different in that he comes from a wealthy family, very different from Jude who has no family and Willem whose parents are dead.  His relationship with JB can be tense around the subject of race; Malcolm has a white mother and black father where as JB’s parents are both black.  JB is the typical troubled artist, very talented but also open to addiction.  Through his story there is the time old discussion of what is art, figurative painting versus the modern art of the instillation, photography and performance art.  I was really drawn into this as it something I studied with my degree and always find it a fascinating subject.To say A Little Life is a masterpiece, a Magnus opus, feels like an understatement.  I have read the winner of the Booker Prize from 2015, A Brief History of Seven Killings, and have to say I think A Little Life is so much better.  There are very few novels, except from the classics, that I keep to read again but this book will be added to that shelf to join other books that I found through the Booker Prize; Possession by A.S Byatt, Amsterdam by Ian MacEwan and The Goldfinch and The Secret History by Donna Tartt being on that shelf. This is a mesmerising, intelligent, all encompassing read and one that will stay with me forever.  This is a monumental novel in my opinion and one I will always recommend as well as those mentioned above.  A Little Life is fiction at its absolute best; the perfect novel.

  3. Gillian Fox

    This book is absolutely brutal and is simultaneously the best and worst book I’ve read in a long time. It sucks you in, takes over your life and then spits you out at the end. It covers a whole multitude of triggering topics: child, mental, physical and sexual abuse, self-harm, suicide, illness, violence; but the writing is beautiful and bleak and unrelenting. The detail is sometimes horrific and sometimes you can’t read extensively in one sitting because it can feel overwhelming – but it’s beautiful.Jude feels real to me. I was so invested in his character’s story and his friendships and relationships were so well written. He was excellent but flawed and his behaviours and interactions were frustrating to read. The love around him brought me to tears at times. Ultimately, he was surrounded by people who love and encourage him, but the trauma he experiences and the self-hate it drives wins out in the end. Sometimes love isn’t enough.There were things I didn’t adore about the book. The female characters are few and not very developed, and towards the end I started to tire of the endless money and excellence on display at all times – there’s no mediocrity or lack of cash here, which kind of feels like literary cheating. The abuse was deeply traumatic and, as much as I was swept away in the story, I do find it hard to believe that someone so traumatised and damaged could, without much effort detailed compared to his lifetime traumas, skip into a great law college with minimal formal education. I find it unlikely that he could simultaneously excel in a legal case battle whilst descending into a drugged mental breakdown – some of the plot details were very convenient or glossy.Despite its flaws though, I loved it. I lost sleep so I could read it. I want to share it and discuss it and keep it alive in my mind. It could be the most challenging and rewarding book I’ve ever read. It’s going to stay with me for years.

  4. CMM

    Beautiful and disturbing. Moving and devastating. Throughout the book, brutality and devotion, love and hate are juxtaposed. The depravity of some characters is as horrific as the deep love demonstrated by others is all encompassing. A difficult read but one I shall never forget.

  5. Mrs. C. L. Evans

    If this book only made the shortlist the winning Booker Prize author for 2015 must be off the charts.This story is raw, real and delves into so many different life experiences, that it provokes a spectrum of feelings – horror, fear, anxiety, loss, deep sadness, hope, passion, nostalgia, warmth, reassurance, admiration and more, and more.Tackling how our formative years can have such a profound effect on who and what we become, I found myself reflecting on how fragile and fallible we humans are. Only as we grow older do we generally recognise how short life is, or embrace the opportunities thrown up along the way. Times aren’t necessarily appreciated unless in retrospect, but sometimes are savoured for every last drop of the moment and this tale of deep and long lasting love and friendship will pull you through it all.Be prepared for the roller coaster of emotions mentioned, as well as possibly a few tears. The experiences of the main protagonist are often explicit, extreme and hugely uncomfortable to read but weave the tapestry of what he was, is and will become.I didn’t find the book that easy to get into initially, with what felt like so many characters to follow and get to know but something kept pulling me back, until I found I didn’t want the story to end.You’ll guess some events, wonder if you can/want to read what happened next at times and be surprised by others but this is one of those stories that you soon begin to wear, like a familiar and well loved jacket (with elbow patches).The multi-dimensional relationships cause you to become so fully immersed and invested that whilst you may feel you’ve been pulled through the wringer, you’ll also be left feeling that you’ve waved off your dearest of friends, long after you’ve turned the final page.

  6. Amazon Customer

    This book was recommended to me by a colleague and I delayed reading it due to the subject matter. I work with children and young people who have experienced abuse and usually choose books that are much lighter subjects. I was sceptical about the book and had some preconceived ideas, especially after the hype of the theater production but once I started it I struggled to put it down (and it is long with very small writing – tip, get it for the Kindle). Yes it’s heavy and very upsetting in parts but the main theme for me is the beautiful, loyalty and friendship between the key characters and their enduring love and affection for Jude. Some of the gentler moments where different people such as Harold, Julia, Andy and of course Willem, care for him, were so special, so poignant, that they made me cry. Towards the end, as the more of Jude’s past is revealed, and how difficult this if for him to overcome becomes evident, I found I had to take breaks. It is hard to know how to describe a book like this but it did not disappoint me and I hope to pick it up and read it again one day.

  7. Sam

    Great. Check for trigger warnings as this does contain upsetting, and perhaps off-putting, scenes.

  8. Honest Chap’s Reviews

    I first discovered Yanagihara through her divisive first novel The People in the Trees. I found the story it told to be a grim yet fascinating one and when I heard about A Little Life I immediately wanted to read it. I ordered a paperback (I’m not a lover of hardbacks) from the States and waited with barely contained anticipation for it to arrive.The book follows the life of four best friends all the way from college to their later adult lives. The first third of the book is equally split between the four as they struggle through the years after college and look to forge their way in life. JB is an artist with a number of personal issues, Willem a kindly aspiring actor, Malcolm an insecure architect and Jude, a brilliant yet damaged man, who could do many things yet decides on a life in law. Essentially Jude is the crux of this friendship as, owing to an utterly horrific youth, his friends rally round to protect him and support him through the disabilities and fragilities he acquired along the way.After a point the book begins to focus solely on the relationship between Willem and Jude and JB and Malcolm become, for the most part, peripheral characters. They are replaced by Harold and Julia, a man and wife who meet Jude while he is at college and grow extremely fond of him. Although this shift in direction disappointed me at first (I especially enjoyed reading about JB’s life and his problems in the first section of the novel) I soon slipped into this new groove and quickly began to enjoy the new narrative possibilities this change created. As a result of these changes, the end of the book comes as no surprise to the reader but, nonetheless, I found it difficult to fight back the tears.A Little Life is similar in some regards, yet greatly different to, The People in the Trees. In A Little Life, Yanagihara again confronts many of the harsh and unpalatable traits of the human condition (child abuse, self-harming, graphic violence) that turned many readers away from her first novel. However, many of the characters she writes about here display an abundance of enviable human qualities – patience, love, loyalty – that were sorely lacking in the ones she created for The People in the Trees. This book evokes strong emotion – just like People in The Trees did – but this time those emotions are more favourable than the utter contempt and disgust I felt towards the protagonists of her first novel. I won’t lie, the book almost had me on the verge of tears a number of times and I’m usually a hard and unfeeling person. From the reviews I’ve read, many people found the book forced and schmaltzy but I found it genuinely affecting – perhaps I am getting soft in my old age. Yanagihara writes so cleverly and touchingly of the men’s friendship that it genuinely helped me create a brilliantly vivid image of the friends in my mind’s eye; an image which stayed with me throughout the entirety of the book. I was also able to strongly connect with the feelings of many of the characters within its pages and perhaps this helped me appreciate and enjoy them more than other readers were able.Sure, the book is long and can at times be repetitious, and in it Yanagihara has a tendency to reuse words too closely together (over and over, cried and cried, struggled and struggled, argued and argued, etc) but for me, strangely, the very mundanity of the book is one of its most endearing traits. Real-life friendships are often valued on how comfortable companions feel around each other through the more tedious aspects of our co-existence and I think Yanagihara conveyed these uninspiring moments with such skill that they became enjoyable. I will admit that there is a level of over sentimentality present, especially concerning Jude, which I can understand will turn some people off. And, speaking of Jude, his unwavering self-loathing and total inability to even begin to accept his friends’ feelings about him did grate occasionally but, overall, these elements rarely bothered me that much. Although the book was long I never found it a chore and I devoured huge chunks of it in single sittings, something I always associate with powerful books that resonate with me.Before I wrap up, a warning to potential buyers: there are, just as in The People in the Trees, some very shocking scenes within this book’s pages. There are graphic depictions of sexual abuse (some involving children) and brutal violence. Yanagihara does not shy away from these unpalatable acts and actions and her no holds barred approach to these scenes may rear discomfort or indeed disgust in some readers. There are also a number of intense scenes involving bodily disfigurement and self-harm that people with a queasy disposition might find repulsive and, as such, should bear this in mind when considering a purchase.I’d highly recommend this book to anyone thinking about reading it – despite A Little Life clocking in at over 800 pages long I was sorry for it to end. Hanya Yanagihara is an accomplished and emotive writer and she is quick becoming one of my favourite authors; I am excited to see what she produces in the future. For me this has been one of the most memorable, moving and engrossing books I’ve read in a long time. I’m off to check out the actual Man Booker Prize winner now as, if it managed to best this novel, it must be some book.

  9. Katie

    Recommended by a friend from work and so glad I purchased. It is a lengthy book with some dark themes but a great read

  10. C. Davies

    It takes a while to settle into the characters but the reward is that you understand the nuances of their interactions so much better. I’m not easily brought to tears but I was at one point. This book goes into my top five ever.

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