Elissa James reviews A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

At 720 pages and with a dark, disturbing plot, this novel is not for everyone. What A Little Life offers is a remarkable, memorable and moving literary tale. It is the type of novel which can evoke a physical reaction in its readers and I found myself experiencing strong emotional responses to the story in a way that I have not in many years.

Although many readers choose titles for leisure and relaxation, the immense popularity of A Little Life proves that huge numbers of readers still wish to be shocked, moved and, above all, challenged. This is a work I would recommend to serious readers who are looking for something unique. The story is populated with likeable characters and features poetic, highly readable language (no post-modern ‘high art’ prose here). However it is dark and it is disturbing. A unique and important book.

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