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Books

An epic study of trauma and friendship in the age of self-invention

New York’s contemporary gay community is the setting for Hanya Yanaghira’s controversial A Little Life — but this vast novel highlights in general the ‘unfreedom’ of life in the free world

15 August 2015

9:00 AM

15 August 2015

9:00 AM

A Little Life Hanya Yanagihara

Picador, pp.736, £16.99, ISBN: 9781447294818

Just over a century after Virginia Woolf declared that ‘on or about December 1910 human character changed’, the American novelist Hanya Yanagihara has announced a new shift in consciousness. Jude, the lead character in A Little Life, is known to his friends as the Postman, ‘post-sexual, post-racial, post-identity, post-past’. The obscurity of his origins (left at birth in a rubbish bin) and a childhood of horrific abuse mean he is determined to draw a veil over his past, making him the most mysterious of the four male New York friends at the heart of Yanagihara’s story.

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