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To Paradise  By  cover art

To Paradise

By: Hanya Yanagihara
Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini, Catherine Ho, BD Wong, Feodor Chin, Kurt Kanazawa
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Publisher's summary

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From the award-winning, best-selling author of the classic A Little Life—a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia.


To Paradise is a fin de siècle novel of marvelous literary effect, but above all it is a work of emotional genius. The great power of this remarkable novel is driven by Yanagihara’s understanding of the aching desire to protect those we love—partners, lovers, children, friends, family, and even our fellow citizens—and the pain that ensues when we cannot.

In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him—and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.

These three sections comprise an ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.

©2021 Hanya Yanagihara (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic reviews



“Remarkable…The emotional impact of this novel is less visceral than A LITTLE LIFE but only because the author’s scope is so vast and her dexterity so dazzling….TO PARADISE demonstrates the inexhaustible ingenuity of an author who keeps shattering expectations….she explores the dream of freedom that lures all these characters to risk everything for a paradise they desire but can barely envision. No matter the setting – past present or future – TO PARADISE stems from the hypnotic confluence of Yanagihara’s skills. She speaks softly, with the urgency of a whisper. She draws us into the most intimate sympathy with these characters while placing them in crises that feel irresistibly compelling.” — Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“We are given a patriarch, wealth, children; there is an arranged marriage, an inheritance, a true love, a class divide and a significant twist. Deftly paced and judiciously detailed, the tale makes hay with the conventions of the 19th-century novel. But that’s not all. With breathtaking audacity Yanagihara rewrites America….Yanagihara masterfully repurposes themes, situations and motifs…This ambitious novel tackles major American questions and answers them in an original, engrossing way. It has a major feel. But it is finally in [its] minor moments that Yanagihara shows greatness.” — Gish Jen, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

"Tour de force…Yanagihara changes the novel landscape: What is different, we accept; what is familiar, we recognize. To Paradise resonates because of its exploration of human relationships and the dismantling of preconceived notions. Biases and hatreds lurk and linger, emerging periodically to remind us that while one form of discrimination may have been eliminated, others remain embedded in our institutions, and cannot easily be eradicated; in the end, threads of prejudice bind all three parts. And yet To Paradise is rich with characters that live and love, with few boundaries. Yanagihara asks us to consider an alternative America that could have existed at any point in history if other decisions had been made, and that might still prevail if we do the right thing." — Oprah Daily

Interview: Hanya Yanagihara on Why Our Longing for Paradise Will Forever Disappoint

'What if there could be this marriage story that wasn't gendered?'
  • To Paradise
  • 'What if there could be this marriage story that wasn't gendered?'

Editor's Pick

An alternate universe uncomfortably close to home
It is said that time heals all wounds, but Hanya Yanagihara’s new epic seeks to challenge this common idiom. Set in an alternate version of New York City spanning three separate time periods, To Paradise provided me with a fresh context to examine some of society’s most pressing issues. In a manner that borders on the satirical, Yanagihara’s New York City seems to regress on social issues through each time period. While in 1893 this reality seems to boast free love and progressive identity politics, the same location is under the thumb of totalitarian rule justified by ceaseless pandemics in far-off 2093 (totally removed from our current reality, right?). While the imagination and grand scale of this novel speak for themselves, the care put into character arcs and dynamic performances by a full cast launch this unique project into a tier of its own. —Seth H., Audible Editor