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  • Writer's pictureThe Dabblers

"This book will make you feel alive!"

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Read our latest (OK, first) guest review, courtesy of the supremely talented photographer and book lover, Keith Tomlinson.

Keith filled out our bitesize review form to give us his thoughts on the 2015 Booker shortlisted novel, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

Set the scene for us: What made you pick up the book? Where and when did you read it? How long did it take to read?

I was intrigued by the book after seeing it featured on Sara Cox's BBC book show Between the Covers. It seemed like a book that would get my attention and I was curious to see if I would stick with it. I've been reading it daily for about 7-8 weeks! How did this book make you feel? Alive! All of life is here, and there have been moments when it's excited me, annoyed me, frightened me and delighted me. What themes did it explore? Life, love, friendship, hardship, abuse, hatred and death. What did you like about the plot/characterisation/writing style? You felt immersed in every character. Every aspect. The point of view was raw but fresh.

Who'd love/hate this book? Anyone who likes long movies, life stories and reality would love this. Those who are uncomfortable with the shadier side of humanity should avoid this. Care to share a specific line or paragraph you liked? "Children are a kind of cartography, and all one has to do is obey the map they present to you the day they are born." Found a funny/stupid Amazon one-star review? "The fundamental problem with A Little Life is that it doesn't deliver what it claims to be. It is marketed as a novel about four friends, but it isn't that at all. It is a novel about ONE person (Jude), and the other three."

Surely three plus one equals four?

(Ed. Well, quite. The Dabblers are LOLLING at this review - we looked it up and it's about 500 words. Always impressed by the lengths people will go to to explain why they hate something!)

Anything else to add? Love it. You have to read it and you must cover it in your podcast! Keep up the good work.

(Ed. The Dabblers would LOVE to do this book but Hajar is currently going through a serious reading dry spell. She got up to page 150 of A Little Life several years ago and hasn't picked it up since - will try to revisit.)

Huge thanks to Keith for the review. Do check out his glorious photos at!


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