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A Little Life

By: Hanya Yanagihara
Narrated by: Oliver Wyman
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Publisher's Summary

A novel of extraordinary intelligence and heart, a masterful depiction of heartbreak and a dark and haunting examination of the tyranny of experience and memory. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015.

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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity.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.

©2015 Hanya Yanagihara (P)2015 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Critic Reviews

"In person Yanagihara is breezily intellectual; all bright red lipstick, sparkly jewellery and cobalt-blue heels. And yet A Little Life has at its heart a darkness so profound you wonder both where it came from and how she mustered the courage to confront it…She is, she says, very much the sort of person who walks past strangely located doors or evocatively seedy windows and immediately wonders what lives exist behind them. For Yanagihara, you feel, they’re more likely to be damaged than not." (Alison Roberts, Evening Standard)

What listeners say about A Little Life

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • RCF
  • 07-02-2016

Bloated and sentimental

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone seeking something that gets to the heart of male relationships, as promised, as this is so clearly written by a woman who is imagining what men feel.

Any additional comments?

At 34 hours in length, this book is about 20 hours too long. The editor in me was mentally slashing it down to a more meaningful and succinct length. There is a touch of the precocious adolescent about the writing -- there is talent in there for sure, but the overblown descriptive style is so laboured, so indulgent, that it veers into the unlikely and ultimately, unnecessary.

Too long, too sentimental and frankly too extreme. The abject treatment of Jude is utterly excessive, whilst the trite imaginings of his and his friends' successful adult lives is utterly fanciful. None of these characters, though drawn out in agonising details, feel like real people.

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11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Loved it at first, then hated it.

I liked the characters at first but got tired after so many pages during which they failed to develop. I also couldn't stomach the extensively detailed cruelty so regularly meted out to the main character, who after a while lost credibility in my opinion. I gave up half way and would return the book for exchange or refund if I had the option.

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A beautifully written tale of four friends

I loved this book so much. It's long, but I just couldn't stop listening to it and had it finished in no time. A previous reviewer put it perfectly; it is harrowing.
As a warning it does detail themes of just about every type of abuse, from spousal abuse to child abuse to self harm.
The narration is easy to listen to, a small criticism in that at times I wasn't sure who was talking in conversation as the inflections and tones for the characters are pretty similar.
It is a beautifully written, heart warming yet heartbreaking book, and one that will stay with me for a long time.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

This book needs a warning label!

Well written beautiful in parts but so deeply harrowing that it was nearly too much to bear.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not as beautiful and moving as I expected

I had heard good reviews of this book on ABCs book club show. It was long and morbidly depressing. I found the dialogue repetitive and forced. It does deal with some interesting issues around relationships and the effects of trauma; however this was not the book for me. I knew this after about 10 hours listening but had to preserve as I had already given it so much time. I have a pretty high tolerance for drama and heavy topics but apparently not high enough for this book!

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4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A true masterpiece

So much has been said about this book and other than saying is beautifully interpreted in this audiobook I'll state what is not.

it's not too long
it's not too graphic
it's not so implausible

enjoy!

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this one.

Would you try another book written by Hanya Yanagihara or narrated by Oliver Wyman?

I may try an abridged version of one this author's books in the future. This book needed some serious editing.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

More character development of each of the men, and much less mystery around why Jude had turned out as he had, both mentally & physically.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

There were so many male characters, it was sometimes difficult to determine which one the narrator was 'being' at any given time.

Did A Little Life inspire you to do anything?

This book did inspire me to discuss some old psychological wounds of my own with my partner.

Any additional comments?

The book was too long with too little character development. I found myself hoping Jude would just end it all so at least the story could move on. Harsh, yes, but I found my compassion waning for him and for Will. Characters that don't evolve in a book of this length make for a tedious read/listen.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bec
  • 18-02-2016

Wonderful performance and book

I loved Oliver Wyman's narration of this profoundly human story. His characters were complex and consistent and perfect to my ears.
The story itself, harrowing, sad, funny occasionally, but mostly very very human. I loved every minute of it.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not Alone

Great read/listen you are completely drawn into this story it touched my soul. Thank you

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Could do with some good editing

This was a good book but it was over written and some proper editing would have reduced the length without taking away from the story.

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1 person found this helpful

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