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April 28th, 2019

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A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara

Second paragraph of third chapter:
So they didn’t mind JB deciding for them, not in this case. They figured they could accommodate twenty-five people comfortably, or forty uncomfortably. “So make it forty,” said JB, promptly, as they’d known he would, but later, back at their apartment, they wrote up a list of just twenty, and only their and Malcolm’s friends, knowing that JB would invite more people than were allotted him, extending invitations to friends and friends of friends and not-even friends and colleagues and bartenders and shop clerks, until the place grew so dense with bodies that they could open all the windows to the night air and still not dispel the fog of heat and smoke that would inevitably accumulate.
I was in Croatia a few years ago and was given such a strong recommendation for this novel that I bought it on Kindle on the spot; however it took a while before I actually got around to reading it. It's a tough read but a very good one. It starts off as the story of four friends sharing a New York apartment, JB, Malcolm, Willem and Jude; but then it zooms in on Jude, who has overcome a horrible childhood of sexual and physical abuse to become a top lawyer - who still self-harms and will never really get better. Jude's frustration with his own limitations often cuts him off from his friends and those who love him; the whole scenario is delicately and sympathetically observed. At some length - the book is over 700 pages, all meticulously judged. I was interested to see Gillian Anderson recommending it too, so if you don't believe me, believe her. Strongly recommended. You can get it here.

This was both the top unread book on my pile by a writer of colour, and my top unread book acquired in 2016. Next respectively on those lists are Five Women Who Loved Love, by Ihara Saikaku, and Better Than Sex, by Hunter S. Thompson.

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