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A Little Life Audiobook

A Little Life

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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity.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

What the Critics Say

"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)

"Yanagihara takes you so deeply into the characters' minds, you struggle to leave them behind." (Fiona Wilson, The Times)
"Unlike anything I've read before." (Alex Preston, The Observer)
"The English language novel that affected me most this year. It's long and unrelenting but completely compelling - and it tells you, as no other novel I know does, that there are harms and injuries in life from which no recovery is possible." (David Sexton, Evening Standard)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (714 )
5 star
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4.4 (674 )
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Story
4.6 (675 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    J Harrison 27/01/2016
    J Harrison 27/01/2016 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "Devastating but brilliant"

    This book is both one of the best books I've read for ages and completely awful! The story is totally compelling and the characters are real and memorable and, in many cases, wonderful. But you will need therapy and/or a duvet day or two to get over the trauma of reading it. If you think you've read the most upsetting part, you are wrong. There is much worse to come. I think relentless is the best way to describe it. I loved it and I would recommend it, but don't say I didn't warn you.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenny 05/01/2016
    Jenny 05/01/2016 Member Since 2014

    Since I discovered Audible I have become addicted. I like my fiction with a twist. I'm a fan of sci-fi and literary fantasy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    133
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    "Deeply disturbing and yet i couldn't stop reading"

    This book isn't for everyone and there were times when I had to put it down because the violence was so graphic, but I was compelled by it and felt like I'd lost something when it ended. There are plot holes and developments that don't ring true, but for all that the story surged forward. It's a hard one to recommend, given the lack of redemption, the violence, the relentlessness of suffering, but it's an engrossing story and a totally immersive experience.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bookylady 01/01/2016
    bookylady 01/01/2016 Member Since 2014

    Bookworm, librarian, chocaholic. Give me a good book, a bar of chocolate and a glass of fine wine and I'm a happy lady.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Shocking, heartbreaking, brilliant."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book but with the proviso that it is a book that will possibly upset you, shock you, horrify you. But it will grab you by the throat and not let go until the last page. And even then it will haunt you for a long time. It is not a book that you can listen to quickly and is best listened to in long stretches, concentrating on all the nuances and detailed layers of character and plot.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Little Life?

    There are too many moments, many of them brutal and shocking, to mention. This story is complicated and told from more than one viewpoint and is a tour de force of visceral writing. I can still see many of the pivotal moments playing out in my head. For me it was a very ' visual' story.


    Which character – as performed by Oliver Wyman – was your favourite?

    Oliver Wyman is a terrific, gifted narrator and he managed to make every character come alive. Jude, the main protagonist, was believable and I became totally immersed in his story. But for me the character who caught myattention the most was Willem, Jude's best friend, protector and partner. He was the epitome of what true friendship should be and I cried for him, laughed with him, rooted for him, empathised with him and all because of the way in which the narrator portrayed him.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    One little life, four huge hearts.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a story of love, friendship, sexuality, relationships, culture, disability, discrimination and abuse (of all descriptions) and all tied up in the lives of four men who meet at a small American college. They remain friends for the rest of their lives, with various ups and downs, and forge bonds that see them through the need to support Jude, and the mysteries that surround his early life. It is a fantastic read, one that will make you laugh and cry, one that will make you dread the next sentence, one that will make you flinch and question what you know about people and what it means to be human.<br/>I will definitely listen to this again. One of my top five books of 2015.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    julie watson 26/11/2015
    julie watson 26/11/2015 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow!!"

    Fantastic book, but quite harrowing and difficult to listen to in places. The story flowed beautifully, and although it was a very long book, still I didn't want it to end, and could have listened for another 10 hours quite easily.
    The narrator can make or break an audio book for me, and this one definitely made it.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachael McKerr 25/01/2017
    Rachael McKerr 25/01/2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    2
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    "If you like misery, this is the book for you."

    Was recommended this book by my sister. Not taking advice from her again! What initially started out as the lives and perspectives of 4 interesting people soon became the tortured inner monologues of one. My goodness the misery! There is so much of it that it becomes unbelievable when another disaster unfolds. Dominated by male figures, both good and (majority) bad, this book would put you off meeting anyone. The last third was particularly hard to listen to, so monotonous and dreary. I had to pause regularly to look at funny pictures just to remind myself the world isn't that bad!

    If you want to feel miserable with no sense of justice or satisfaction in a story, grab junk food, tissues and download this book. I'm going to listen to a comedian's autobiography next time!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sally 28/12/2016
    sally 28/12/2016 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "Just not for me."

    Too long and I found myself becoming more and more irritated by the 'goodness 'of the characters and annoyed by the over use of 'Im sorry. I'm so sorry' .. also didn't buy the Jude story really. But it was beautifully crafted and read really well. Sure lots of people will love it

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    l0ul0u71 26/11/2016
    l0ul0u71 26/11/2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Dull and long with the odd brief interesting part."

    So many recommended this to me but I struggled to drag my bored brain to the long awaited finish line. I'm glad it's over.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr Sutton Coldfield, United Kingdom 16/11/2016
    Mr Sutton Coldfield, United Kingdom 16/11/2016 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    "Don't listen if you need picking up"

    I found this book quite tough going, it is a pretty depressing subject matter and the tone of the narrator seems to amplify this. I found I was drifting off thinking of other things rather than listening to the book.

    Still, I made it to the end, just.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Abi 14/12/2015
    Abi 14/12/2015 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "The most moved I've been by a book"

    Both the narration and the story were excellent. Moving, relatable, bittersweet, tender and beautifully written.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cian 19/02/2016
    Cian 19/02/2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    135
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    "So glad when it was finally over"

    This is first book I have read by this author and chose it due to all the ‘hype’ surrounding it due to its place on Man Booker List.
    Jude the main character is a top lawyer at an equally top New York corporate law firm. Jude is brilliant, drawing in new business, administering and managing without comparison. Yet he is caring, kind thoughtful towards many almost equally talented devoted friends. He plays the piano and can sing in varied languages to professional standard. He is a chef to professional standing as well as being a mathematician and of course a lover and expert of all things ‘arty’. We are told he became all this following abandonment as a baby followed by 15 years of physical emotional and sexual abuse. Difficult to believe and some….
    Jude is complex. He has physical issues including constant pain and a long time need to self-harm. This bit I can believe but it could be argued that to be kind emphatic understanding and giving to others would need to have been thought through example during his formative years. As a child Jude had no knowledge of these yet he possesses and uses them with ease in a correct and competent way. The wording and prose is delightful and carries the reader along the story but add in a little reflection and no .. .not really believable.
    In one scene Jude experiences the pleasure of people already loved by him loving others that he loved. To feel this surely one would have to have experienced love care and feeling of being held securely while developing from childhood as otherwise how would an individual be able to recognise it.
    This is ultimately a story of male friendship set mainly in New York. Jude is the Lawyer; JB is an Artist; Malcolm an Architect and Willem is an Actor. Their enormous success detracts from their overall credibility. Moreover their personalities remain unchanged over 35 years. Characters like Harold move from convincing to almost ghost like in the later stages of the book. Moreover the environment in which they operate does not seem to change within the time frame.
    We are led to believe that Jude has self-loathing for himself yet seemingly outwardly portrays love and affection to ensure idol worship by friends and rescuers alike. They continue to care for and support him throughout his many life trials regardless.
    The early scenes between Jude and his mentor Harold were heart-warming.
    There is graphic overload on flesh rotting and cutting sessions. I know some of this has to be discussed for the story to progress but it felt too much and more for shock than story value. In this book it’s too much in whichever direction you travel for example the pendulum is swinging towards extreme wonderfulness or extreme wickedness and damnation.
    I did feel the book was gripping in parts. I just found it such ‘ hard work’ from the start and only by forcing myself on did I ultimately get to the finish. However with such widely varying lifestyles and professions it’s amazing that these characters remained the mainstay for each other throughout their lives. They did suffer especially Jude but I guess if suffering is a requirement why not do it in luxury. Ordinary individuals like cleaners nurses are mentioned due to the work they do but then that’s it there is no further look into their lives. There are no strong female characters with roles other than to complement their men.
    This book is way way way too long with much repetition and over description of trivia with meal preparation for example. I know child sexual physical and emotional abuse is real for some as I work in the Child Protection field but with everything that happened to Jude after the abuse with the domestic abuse relationship and the conclusion of the book it really does not seem so much horrendous misery can continue to befall one person. I can see how many have loved it but for me it was a well written middle of the road read. It has its enjoyable bits but Booker Prize Winner in my opinion no which ultimately it did not receive.

    12 of 16 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Ruth
    Sydney
    13/03/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Recommend you take Zoloft with this"
    Any additional comments?

    Clearly a well written novel but if you're not clinically depressed before you start you will be by the end of it........ or even a third of the way through.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Clemo
    Gorokan, Australia
    13/08/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "If you like a victim"

    Awe inspiring recount of a horrific child abuse by the Catholic Church, their unaccountability, pedophilia and grooming. The reader really feels for this poor child who grows up to be very successful except in coming to terms with his past, the injuries and confused somewhat misplaced attachments formed in later life.
    Went on for a bit too long, perhaps a case of having too many enablers

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amrit Daswaney
    United States of America
    02/08/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Heartbreakingly excellent."

    This is by some distance the best book I've heard in 2017. Performance and story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Linda
    20/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "compelling"

    heartbreaking and thought-provoking. the reader was excellent. sorry to see it end. anyrhing else is a spoiler

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Linda
    07/06/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A modern masterpiece"

    Best book of 2016. Very well presented. I recommend it without reservation. A beautifully crafted story that will stay with me for a long time

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jane
    09/03/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Long, tiresome, sad"

    I was disappointed with this novel: too long, lots of unnecessary additions and a COMPLETELY unrealistic depiction of adoption, homosexuality and friendship.

    I loved the narration, wonderful! But sadly, I don't think I'll ever be listening to this book again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lisa
    06/02/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unforgettable Narrative that Gets Under Your Skin"

    I approached this book with reservations, 42 hours of listening time, some grim reviews & a harrowing subject matter! But although it took some time to get into it, I found it intriguing & compelling.
    The characters became my companions, as I learned more about them I wanted to spend more time in their company.
    There were certain phases when the sheer misery was a chore, but most of the time it was addictive.
    If I had to pick 3 words to describe this book - shocking, uplifting, intriguing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Angela
    18/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mesmerizing"

    Beautifully written story about abuse resulting in shame, self flagellation and guilt. A compelling read and so so sad.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Michael
    10/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    "Boring"

    The most over-written repetitive boring garbage ive ever read. Phrases, descriptions, sentences repeated throughout the book. Maybe its a farcical send up of "modern ametican wtiting"?

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth
    27/02/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I couldn't finish this"
    What would have made A Little Life better?

    A more nuanced plot. I mean it's all so gory and the main character is not likeable at all.


    What was most disappointing about Hanya Yanagihara’s story?

    The main character. What a weird story. Ewe. How on earth is anyone supposed to relate to such a person?


    How could the performance have been better?

    The performance was fine. The material was dreadful though.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Little Life?

    To be honest there's not much could be done with it from my perspective. When I finally realised what the central theme of the book was (about 1/10th into the book?) I realised that it wasn't going to be the story I had expected about multiple characters but rather about one main unattractive protagonist who I felt no sympathy for. I decided that there wasn't any point in exploring the book further because it would just drag on with these dreadful images and impossible to believe in choices. So I gave up. I would remove the whole thing and leave nothing behind.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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