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Publisher's Summary

A novel of extraordinary intelligence and heart, a masterful depiction of heartbreak and a dark and haunting examination of the tyranny of experience and memory. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is an immensely powerful and heartbreaking novel of brotherly love and the limits of human endurance. When four graduates 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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity.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.

©2015 Hanya Yanagihara (P)2015 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Critic Reviews

"In person Yanagihara is breezily intellectual; all bright red lipstick, sparkly jewellery and cobalt-blue heels. And yet A Little Life has at its heart a darkness so profound you wonder both where it came from and how she mustered the courage to confront it…She is, she says, very much the sort of person who walks past strangely located doors or evocatively seedy windows and immediately wonders what lives exist behind them. For Yanagihara, you feel, they’re more likely to be damaged than not." (Alison Roberts, Evening Standard)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Heartbreakingly excellent.

This is by some distance the best book I've heard in 2017. Performance and story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

compelling

heartbreaking and thought-provoking. the reader was excellent. sorry to see it end. anyrhing else is a spoiler

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A modern masterpiece

Best book of 2016. Very well presented. I recommend it without reservation. A beautifully crafted story that will stay with me for a long time

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ruth
  • Sydney
  • 03-13-16

Recommend you take Zoloft with this

Any additional comments?

Clearly a well written novel but if you're not clinically depressed before you start you will be by the end of it........ or even a third of the way through.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Clemo
  • Gorokan, Australia
  • 08-13-17

If you like a victim

Awe inspiring recount of a horrific child abuse by the Catholic Church, their unaccountability, pedophilia and grooming. The reader really feels for this poor child who grows up to be very successful except in coming to terms with his past, the injuries and confused somewhat misplaced attachments formed in later life.
Went on for a bit too long, perhaps a case of having too many enablers

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Long, tiresome, sad

I was disappointed with this novel: too long, lots of unnecessary additions and a COMPLETELY unrealistic depiction of adoption, homosexuality and friendship.

I loved the narration, wonderful! But sadly, I don't think I'll ever be listening to this book again.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Unforgettable Narrative that Gets Under Your Skin

I approached this book with reservations, 42 hours of listening time, some grim reviews & a harrowing subject matter! But although it took some time to get into it, I found it intriguing & compelling.
The characters became my companions, as I learned more about them I wanted to spend more time in their company.
There were certain phases when the sheer misery was a chore, but most of the time it was addictive.
If I had to pick 3 words to describe this book - shocking, uplifting, intriguing.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Mesmerizing

Beautifully written story about abuse resulting in shame, self flagellation and guilt. A compelling read and so so sad.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

The most over-written repetitive boring garbage ive ever read. Phrases, descriptions, sentences repeated throughout the book. Maybe its a farcical send up of "modern ametican wtiting"?

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

I couldn't finish this

What would have made A Little Life better?

A more nuanced plot. I mean it's all so gory and the main character is not likeable at all.

What was most disappointing about Hanya Yanagihara’s story?

The main character. What a weird story. Ewe. How on earth is anyone supposed to relate to such a person?

How could the performance have been better?

The performance was fine. The material was dreadful though.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Little Life?

To be honest there's not much could be done with it from my perspective. When I finally realised what the central theme of the book was (about 1/10th into the book?) I realised that it wasn't going to be the story I had expected about multiple characters but rather about one main unattractive protagonist who I felt no sympathy for. I decided that there wasn't any point in exploring the book further because it would just drag on with these dreadful images and impossible to believe in choices. So I gave up. I would remove the whole thing and leave nothing behind.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for J Harrison
  • J Harrison
  • 01-27-16

Devastating but brilliant

This book is both one of the best books I've read for ages and completely awful! The story is totally compelling and the characters are real and memorable and, in many cases, wonderful. But you will need therapy and/or a duvet day or two to get over the trauma of reading it. If you think you've read the most upsetting part, you are wrong. There is much worse to come. I think relentless is the best way to describe it. I loved it and I would recommend it, but don't say I didn't warn you.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jenny
  • Jenny
  • 01-05-16

Deeply disturbing and yet i couldn't stop reading

This book isn't for everyone and there were times when I had to put it down because the violence was so graphic, but I was compelled by it and felt like I'd lost something when it ended. There are plot holes and developments that don't ring true, but for all that the story surged forward. It's a hard one to recommend, given the lack of redemption, the violence, the relentlessness of suffering, but it's an engrossing story and a totally immersive experience.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for bookylady
  • bookylady
  • 01-01-16

Shocking, heartbreaking, brilliant.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book but with the proviso that it is a book that will possibly upset you, shock you, horrify you. But it will grab you by the throat and not let go until the last page. And even then it will haunt you for a long time. It is not a book that you can listen to quickly and is best listened to in long stretches, concentrating on all the nuances and detailed layers of character and plot.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Little Life?

There are too many moments, many of them brutal and shocking, to mention. This story is complicated and told from more than one viewpoint and is a tour de force of visceral writing. I can still see many of the pivotal moments playing out in my head. For me it was a very ' visual' story.

Which character – as performed by Oliver Wyman – was your favourite?

Oliver Wyman is a terrific, gifted narrator and he managed to make every character come alive. Jude, the main protagonist, was believable and I became totally immersed in his story. But for me the character who caught myattention the most was Willem, Jude's best friend, protector and partner. He was the epitome of what true friendship should be and I cried for him, laughed with him, rooted for him, empathised with him and all because of the way in which the narrator portrayed him.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

One little life, four huge hearts.

Any additional comments?

This is a story of love, friendship, sexuality, relationships, culture, disability, discrimination and abuse (of all descriptions) and all tied up in the lives of four men who meet at a small American college. They remain friends for the rest of their lives, with various ups and downs, and forge bonds that see them through the need to support Jude, and the mysteries that surround his early life. It is a fantastic read, one that will make you laugh and cry, one that will make you dread the next sentence, one that will make you flinch and question what you know about people and what it means to be human.
I will definitely listen to this again. One of my top five books of 2015.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for sally
  • sally
  • 12-28-16

Just not for me.

Too long and I found myself becoming more and more irritated by the 'goodness 'of the characters and annoyed by the over use of 'Im sorry. I'm so sorry' .. also didn't buy the Jude story really. But it was beautifully crafted and read really well. Sure lots of people will love it

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for julie watson
  • julie watson
  • 11-26-15

Wow!!

Fantastic book, but quite harrowing and difficult to listen to in places. The story flowed beautifully, and although it was a very long book, still I didn't want it to end, and could have listened for another 10 hours quite easily.
The narrator can make or break an audio book for me, and this one definitely made it.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rachael McKerr
  • Rachael McKerr
  • 01-25-17

If you like misery, this is the book for you.

Was recommended this book by my sister. Not taking advice from her again! What initially started out as the lives and perspectives of 4 interesting people soon became the tortured inner monologues of one. My goodness the misery! There is so much of it that it becomes unbelievable when another disaster unfolds. Dominated by male figures, both good and (majority) bad, this book would put you off meeting anyone. The last third was particularly hard to listen to, so monotonous and dreary. I had to pause regularly to look at funny pictures just to remind myself the world isn't that bad!

If you want to feel miserable with no sense of justice or satisfaction in a story, grab junk food, tissues and download this book. I'm going to listen to a comedian's autobiography next time!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for l0ul0u71
  • l0ul0u71
  • 11-26-16

Dull and long with the odd brief interesting part.

So many recommended this to me but I struggled to drag my bored brain to the long awaited finish line. I'm glad it's over.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mr
  • Mr
  • 11-16-16

Don't listen if you need picking up

I found this book quite tough going, it is a pretty depressing subject matter and the tone of the narrator seems to amplify this. I found I was drifting off thinking of other things rather than listening to the book.

Still, I made it to the end, just.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Abi
  • Abi
  • 12-14-15

The most moved I've been by a book

Both the narration and the story were excellent. Moving, relatable, bittersweet, tender and beautifully written.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for R. J. Gladden
  • R. J. Gladden
  • 08-19-16

Relentlessly depressing

After investing 30 hours of my life listening to this book, I finally realised it was never going to get any better, that there was never going to be a redeeming moment when it was going to come together and Jude would finally get the moment he deserved. It just went on and on and on and rarely in all my life have I come across anyone who has been so ill used in the whole of their life.

Needless to say, I didn't finish the book and was really sorry I started it.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for merisa
  • merisa
  • 05-29-16

Loved it at first, then hated it.

I liked the characters at first but got tired after so many pages during which they failed to develop. I also couldn't stomach the extensively detailed cruelty so regularly meted out to the main character, who after a while lost credibility in my opinion. I gave up half way and would return the book for exchange or refund if I had the option.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amanda
  • Amanda
  • 02-23-16

A beautifully written tale of four friends

I loved this book so much. It's long, but I just couldn't stop listening to it and had it finished in no time. A previous reviewer put it perfectly; it is harrowing.
As a warning it does detail themes of just about every type of abuse, from spousal abuse to child abuse to self harm.
The narration is easy to listen to, a small criticism in that at times I wasn't sure who was talking in conversation as the inflections and tones for the characters are pretty similar.
It is a beautifully written, heart warming yet heartbreaking book, and one that will stay with me for a long time.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Alana
  • Alana
  • 07-05-16

Not as beautiful and moving as I expected

I had heard good reviews of this book on ABCs book club show. It was long and morbidly depressing. I found the dialogue repetitive and forced. It does deal with some interesting issues around relationships and the effects of trauma; however this was not the book for me. I knew this after about 10 hours listening but had to preserve as I had already given it so much time. I have a pretty high tolerance for drama and heavy topics but apparently not high enough for this book!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ruth C Fogarty
  • Ruth C Fogarty
  • 02-07-16

Bloated and sentimental

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone seeking something that gets to the heart of male relationships, as promised, as this is so clearly written by a woman who is imagining what men feel.

Any additional comments?

At 34 hours in length, this book is about 20 hours too long. The editor in me was mentally slashing it down to a more meaningful and succinct length. There is a touch of the precocious adolescent about the writing -- there is talent in there for sure, but the overblown descriptive style is so laboured, so indulgent, that it veers into the unlikely and ultimately, unnecessary.

Too long, too sentimental and frankly too extreme. The abject treatment of Jude is utterly excessive, whilst the trite imaginings of his and his friends' successful adult lives is utterly fanciful. None of these characters, though drawn out in agonising details, feel like real people.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-26-17

Not Alone

Great read/listen you are completely drawn into this story it touched my soul. Thank you

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lisa McKay
  • Lisa McKay
  • 07-20-17

Could do with some good editing

This was a good book but it was over written and some proper editing would have reduced the length without taking away from the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Davide Gaido
  • Davide Gaido
  • 03-24-17

A true masterpiece

So much has been said about this book and other than saying is beautifully interpreted in this audiobook I'll state what is not.

it's not too long
it's not too graphic
it's not so implausible

enjoy!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Fiona
  • Fiona
  • 01-11-17

Will make you cry more than once

I was captivate throughout the book. Each character came alive to the point I wondered, where these real people? Magnificent book, never have I wanted to pull a character out of a book more than I did Jude.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Reader
  • 12-30-16

The best.. and worst book.. of all time

What other book might you compare A Little Life to, and why?

There is no comparison for this incredible book. It has haunted me ... I doubt I will ever read anything like this again.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I cried. A lot. This book moved me. Unspeakably and unashamedly. An incredible, but deeply dark book - I highly recommend it, but read it with caution. There are some instances where I had to shut it off, and play loud music, just to drown it out. However it was so beautiful, and so touching, it is such a brilliant book.

Any additional comments?

I hated the narrator at first. He had a very strange old cowboy, Clint Eastwood sound, it almost put me off. Toward the end, I loved him. He made the book even more endearing, so stick with it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-09-16

Magnificent

Horrific and tender at the same time. Incredibly moving, a story that keeps you riveted till the last word.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful