Title: To Paradise

Author: Hanya Yanagihara

Pages: 720 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

From Hanya Yanagihara, author of the modern classic A Little LifeTo Paradise is 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.

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 are joined in an enthralling and 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.

To Paradise is a findesiecle novel of marvellous 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.

The Review

Oh boy.

Okay, so I should preface this review by saying I bloody loved A Little Life. It broke me in ways I didn’t know I could be broken and I would read it all again even though that broken hearted feeling would get me again. Therefore, I was both excited and terrified of reading To Paradise – Hanya Yanagihara’s latest release. I tried to not compare it to A Little Life and tried to go into it with the knowledge that I just liked the writers style and I swear I gave it a good college try. I read up to 51% of the novel before having to admit defeat. I just couldn’t finish it.

I loved the first part of the story, the arranged marriage between the two main characters and if the story carried on being about them I think I could have carried on with the novel – although at 720 pages it probably was a bit too long – but then the story switched. It took me a while to get my bearings with the second section and whilst I didn’t fin the story as engaging as I did the first I really wanted to try and keep going. However, when the third storyline hit and it was set in space I had to tap out. I just stopped caring for the characters and the story.

So unfortunately To Paradise was a DNF but not without lack of trying.

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara is available now.

For more information regarding Hanya Yanagihara (@YanagiharaHanya) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

The Blurb

Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever travelled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light.

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.

In a remarkable and precise prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance.

The Review

I can’t even begin to give you a synopsis or description of this novel. A Little Life is too big and too magnanimous to be squashed into a paragraph or two. It just cannot be done. However, as poor an attempt as it will be I shall try my best.

First and foremost A Little Life is about the friendship of four young men – Jude, Willem, Malcolm and JB – and follows them through their lives into adulthood.

That is all you are getting!

A Little Life streamlines the story to focus on one character – Jude. St Jude is the patron saint of lost souls and it is no surprise to find that is exactly what Jude is – lost. He is taken under the wing by the people around him as they try to convince him of his self worth. However, old wounds are difficult to heal.

A Little Life will leave your feeling a thesaurus of emotion; you literally step onto a rollercoaster of feelings with the turn of every page. I have laughed, cried, been angry, hurt, felt like I was suffocating, been heartbroken, was given hope, felt bone-crushing terror among a lot of other things whilst reading the novel.

I will warn you, it is not an easy read. Besides the subject matters encased in between the covers, A Little Life is a long book and at times can seem narrative heavy. Do not go into this book hoping for a light bit of escapism. However, I do think that people need to read this novel. It is truly amazing. It should be one of this year’s major prize winners because it is a beautifully told story. It has everything that you want from a novel and more.

Buy it. Buy it now.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is available now.

A Little Life