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Publisher's Summary

The number one Sunday Times best seller

From Hanya Yanagihara, author of the modern classic A Little Life, To 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 fin-de-siecle 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.

©2022 Hanya Yanagihara (P)2022 Penguin Randomhouse LLC

Critic Reviews

"A future classic.... For those captivated by Yanagihara’s A Little Life, her next is equally gripping.... Ultimately, it asks the question: is love really all we need?" (Telegraph)

"To Paradise becomes unputdownable.... Amidst the worst travails and political pressures, the primacy of human bonds is irreducible, a truth that lies at the heart of this frightening and very beautiful novel." (Literary Review)

"To Paradise is a transcendent, visionary novel of stunning scope and depth. A novel so layered, so rich, so relevant, so full of the joys and terrors—the pure mystery - of human life, is not only rare, it’s revolutionary." (Michael Cunningham)

"After the painfully affecting [A Little Life] To Paradise gives us three stories far apart in space and time but each unique in their power to summon the joy and complexity of love, the pain of loss. I’m not sure I’ve ever missed the world of a book as much as I miss To Paradise now I’ve left it.... It’s rare that you get the opportunity to review a masterpiece, but To Paradise, definitively, is one." (Observer)

"Awe-inspiring.... The characters are so well drawn and the plot so well paced, I couldn’t put it down." (Daily Telegraph

What listeners say about To Paradise

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Boring

Tried to read this because it was best picked for a book club…. Only got a few chapters in and realise I would be wasting 20 something hrs of my life listening to this rubbish

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rh
  • 06-03-2022

Epic

Like A little life, this takes the reader on a journey - shows us how change we think is permanent can be overturned; how plagues can decimate, climate change - the desire to live and survive are primal. So enjoyed it.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant!

A brilliant book with excellent narration, that keeps the listener constantly engaged as history and a new world order evolves.

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Timely, terrifying & beautiful.

“A Little Life”, Yanagihara’s acclaimed, devastatingly beautiful second novel, is what led me “To Paradise”. Both epic in scale, and both deeply upsetting at many points, these two novels otherwise couldn’t be more different. “To Paradise” reimagines post civil war US, with NY and surrounds becoming “free states” with some very progressive social structures. Same sex marriage is both legal and normalized by the late 19th century, yet most marriages are arranged rather than love matches. The book is divided into three parts, with the first taking place during this period, the second largely set in the mid ‘80s and the third (and by far largest) taking place in a very dystopian mid to late 21st century. There are many through lines within the narrative, including most character names constantly repeated throughout the three time periods. It’s a beautifully written read with some very complex and interesting characters. But Part 3 is not for the faint hearted. It’s a brutal portrait of a world brought to its knees by decades of viral pandemics and the formerly “free states” of the US now a dehumanising totalitarian government. Given what the world has been through over the past two years, it really is a tough read, imagining a future of seemingly never ending suffering and loss of even basic human rights. But interwoven into the entire narrative is the author’s deep humanity and compassion. I made the mistake of listening to the large chapters on my headphones while driving to work, and had to stop myself from bursting into tears as it was so deeply moving.

As for the audiobook performances, they are somewhat of a mixed bag. Part 1 is very well done, Part 2 improved when played at 1.2x speed and Part 3 was very good, but I found parts of BD Wong’s largely excellent performance became a bit histrionic for my taste. All in all it’s a very solid four stars all round, and a novel I feel may grow more in my estimations with a bit of separation and time.

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All makes sense in the world the author crafted

Did I care about the characters Yanagihara created? Not particularly. She knows how to take neediness and tragedy to a high level, and it can be draining to the listener, But she has three perfect universes with their own rules where everything has a purpose, and everything makes sense. Throw in an excellent use of the English language, and you're in for a treat.

The readers do a phenomenal job performing their roles.

I wish she hadn't relied so much on letters exchanges, particularly in Book 3.

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Brilliantly narrated and thoroughly captivating

I loved this book from start to finish. The various narrators are brilliant in their own individual way. The story gives us lots to ponder given the current climate and what we've been through in the past few years. Never thought a 28 hour audiobook would ever seem too short.

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Just narrate

Book 2 very slow.
Book 3 kind of compelling, at times. I wish Dr Griffith’s narrator would just narrate - the acting got a bit too much.

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Powerful

Frightening, more so as it could easily come about.
Book 2 was a little slow but rewarding overall if you manage to push through to Book 3

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An amazing journey into a terrible world

Such an incredible journey. An epic reconstruction of love and power. A slow rise towards a fascist state. Beautifully written, with brilliantly developed characters, and a compelling story which kept us guessing right until the end. Is it a warning? Is it a prognosis? Is it happening. Amazing. Five stars!

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A great parable for the times

A complex, gripping, brilliantly written and prescient story of pandemics, politics, and love. Terrific performances.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-03-2022

Brilliant and infuriating

3.5 stars.

I absolutely loved the stories especially part 3. I was hooked. Yet there were 2 aspects that REALLY annoyed me:
1. She used the same character names across all 3 stories/parts even though they were absolutely unrelated. I find this pointless and irritating especially in keeping track of the complexity if each story.
2. Part 1 and 2 ended abruptly on an absolute precipice. I was left dangling with no inkling of the outcome of the story. It feels unfinished more than thought provoking.
I wouldn't recommend the book because of these 3 aspects. I'm left feeling incomplete rather than satisfied or even dissatisfied with the novel.

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  • Rika
  • 19-01-2022

Wow, I can’t believe it’s over

I didn’t know what to expect after the roller-coaster listen of A Little Life, and doubted this would be as good, but it was. A very different story, I loved each part of it and wished the first two stories could have gone on longer as I was dying to know what happened to the characters. It was hard to get into the third part at first but as the story developed, I became enthralled with the experiences of each of the characters. I am left feeling bereft that the book is finished. Each character was unique and came to life, the narration was as perfect as it gets. I did wish there was a family tree/lineage map of the characters as I think the characters in different eras may have been connected!? But I found it hard to figure out if and how. Either way, an amazing book, please write more!

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  • LT
  • 12-04-2022

A masterpiece

The word ‘masterpiece’ is overused but in the case of To Paradise, it is an understatement. A novel that will stay with me for rest of my life, do not deny yourself the gift of listening to it.

Having read the novel in print and now also listened to the audiobook, it is the most exquisitely read audiobook I have ever heard. The characters are brought to life with a richness and depth that is unmatched. The performances are truly worthy of Academy Awards, should audio books ever become a category. A true gem.

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  • Catie T.
  • 30-03-2022

To cliffhangers

Yanagihara has so beautifully brought to my mind experiences I’ve had but wasn’t able to articulate - what it means to be a family unit, what it means to be a family unit in a pandemic and how it affects your looser friendships. The world building in the novel allowed me to imagine and linger on details. Situations that seemed familiar sudden weren’t, and those that seemed strange became ones I knew too well. But once the world was established, and we settled on narrative arc of a story, suddenly the it all ended, and on came another brave new world, only for the same thing to happen again. Did it work out for the characters? Is it up for me to decide? Were the stories somehow linked narratively? Maybe one day Yanagihara will enlighten us!

1 person found this helpful

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  • frederique haddad
  • 22-03-2022

Splendid as only Hanya Yanagihara can do!

In Paradise is an epic journey which is so tenderly told and is simply splendid in terms of writing and the performances were just perfect. The story is in 3 interlacing parts and the last character Charlie will stay in my heart (together with her grandfather’s love) for a very long time. Hanya Yanagihara has a way of noticing and telling of the most ordinary things in an extraordinary way. I am desolate to leave this book and these characters and envy all of you who still have the 28 hour journey ahead of you!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Alice
  • 21-06-2022

Boring and unlikeable characters

Little Life was one of the best books I've ever read. I can't finish Paradise.... it's just boring. I didn't find the characters interesting.

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  • claire
  • 06-06-2022

Longwinded and tedious

Turgid, overrated and empty. Good performances but wasted on the material. Gave up eight hours in.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-06-2022

Excellent narration - but too complicated

I loved the narration of this book and the individual stories. However, I found it way too complicated and, being honest, even at the end … I don’t fully understand what happened!

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  • Beth
  • 28-05-2022

Masterpiece

There are very few words that can describe simply how incredible this book is, and how masterfully the audiobook brings it to life. A true masterpiece for our times.

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  • JULIE CLAWSON
  • 12-05-2022

Fantastic

I loved this book. it was thought provoking and scary in that the dystopian future felt quite possible after the COVID pandemic. Beautifully written

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-05-2022

Amazing

I had read mixed reviews but can absolutely 100% recommend this . Beautifully written and narrated.
I will go back and listen again … didn’t want it to end .

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