It is no secret that my favourite book blog is A Little Blog of Books. Many of the suggestions and reviews have led me to read books that might have slipped under my radar.
This, the first novel by Hanya Yanagihara, is one such. It is a darkly, rich memoir by a disgraced scientist, with an introduction and footnotes by another scientist who continues to admire him.
Norton Perina, a somewhat unassuming science graduate is invited to join an anthropological expedition to a Micronesian island, distant and unvisited by the West, its distance adding to its mythological status.
The People in the Trees, is both the title of this book and the title of a fictional account of the expedition by its leader, Paul Tallent.
The memoir, Norton’s own, is written after everything that he has discovered and done has been discredited by a drastic and ill-judged action involving some of his adopted children. It reaches publication with an introduction and footnotes by Ronald Kubodera, one of the few people who is still prepared to have anything to do with Norton after his arrest and imprisonment.
This is a penetrating, deft and imaginative book. Less robustly provocative than A Little Life, for which she was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015, but no less intense.