A Little Life
A law clerk and an aspiring actor lease a meager apartment in Manhattan, laying the foundation for many years of friendship between Jude St. Francis and Willem Ragnarsson in A Little Life, the astonishing second novel by Hanya Yanagihara (The People in the Trees). Interwoven with them are their close friends, frenetic artist JB and stalwart architect Malcolm. The foursome's dynamic relationships comprise a lush backdrop for the greater drama gradually unfolding throughout Jude's adulthood.
Yanagihara writes each character with an empathy that embraces their desires and revulsions, so that every break of trust and every tender moment reverberates across the novel's dazzling panorama. Still, she never loses sight of its enigmatic hub: Jude, a man of indeterminate race, with no relatives to speak of, a suspect lack of sexual expression and an excruciating disability he insists not be mentioned. But how long can his friends overlook his vacillating health and psychological distress before Jude becomes a danger to himself?
Yanagihara's powerful prose alleviates even the heaviest of sorrows. She is a master observer of the human psyche, and A Little Life vibrates with the hope of personal redemption, delivering something far greater than its humble title presumes. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness