I am doing something which I do not ordinarily do. Writing a post about a book which I haven’t even finished. There is a good reason, so bear with me. I would truly love this book to win, I fear that it will not because there is another American writer whose novel is, I fear, even more likely and perhaps more entitled, to win.
I am telling you about A Little Life now because it is quite long and I simply cannot wait for you to read it. When I tell you that I have only just finished Section Two of several more, no doubt you will be even more sceptical and astonished. But this is a page turner. Surely, I would have finished it in any other week, but my other life – the acting as grandmother, parent, worker, friend got in the way!
The second section is called The Postman, this is a somewhat cruel nickname given to the character in the book called Jude, who is the most mysterious and the most rare. The first section is more about Willem. Willem and Jude share a grotty apartment in New York, they have been friends since college and they have two other close friends in their circle, JB who is an artist, and Malcolm. And even though they are now well able to afford better, or even separate, accommodation they prefer their life in this small and unbecoming place.
This is the story of the relationships between these four young men, so different in temperament and background, secretive and playful, teasing and careless – the way the young are.
Hanya Yanagihara, the extremely young-looking author, was born in Hawaii and now lives in New York. There is no picture on the dust jacket and “lives in New York” is the sum total of the information on her. But other media, paper and internet, is more forthcoming. I have not seen a single bad or luke-warm review.
This book gets my vote (that is to say nothing as it is not a voting matter) but should it have been my privilege to have had anything to do with the Man Booker longlist this is one of the books I would hope to see on the shortlist, and would solemnly urge towards the winning podium.
I have now finished the book. In places I was crying so much I could barely read. It is indelibly stained with extraordinary human cruelty counterbalanced with unmitigated kindness and unconditional love, truly an epic narrative. Anyone who still ponders the necessity of pursuing cases of historic abuse should read and learn something from this.