A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life was the first book I read from Hanya Yanagihara, and it will definitely be the last. This book, which has become the worst novel I’ve read this year, disinclined me to read fiction, ever again.


A Little Life tells the lives of four friends by putting one in the centre. We follow the lives of Jude the lawyer, JB the artist, Malcolm the architect and, Willem the actor since college, where they’ve met. The whole thing of this group, four of whom are different people, is to understand Jude’s problem and love him no matter what. I mean, almost. I don’t want to give spoilers if you’re going to read this (Please, don’t.), but Jude obviously had a lot of bad things in his past. He doesn’t answer questions about his family or his past, hurts himself, but is loved by all. The author didn’t choose to focus on why Jude was so popular; you have to accept him an angel as the reader.

A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara

As the book progresses, we (finally) learn something about Jude. Jude, who doesn’t share his past with anyone, harms himself (and in fact contains a lot of oddities), becomes one of the most successful lawyers in New York. Ugh! Well, he manages to forget about his insecurities and his terrible past and practically becomes a superhero when he does his job. There ‘s no such thing! You don’t create a character like this; you cannot shape it as you wish; there’s something called reality! Anyway, I’m not going to give you guys any spoilers so I’ll just stop.

Obviously, it is easy to understand why this book is so popular. Plenty of savageries, plenty of pity, dark and pathetic past lives, a little American life, trillions of “I’m sorry”, billions of “talk to me”. A glimpse into the art world, acting and architecture, bizarre relationships, gay relationships, family, a main character miles away from reality. This screams bestseller and the author is not too bad. I’m sure the movie or the show will come out soon. So you don’t have to read it. (Save your time, really.)

About the book: A Little Life

The million copy bestseller, 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.


About the author: Hanya Yanagihara

Hanya Yanagihara is an American novelist, editor, and travel writer. She grew up in Hawaii. 

A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Reading Challenge 2019 – The Year of Women Writers

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