In To Paradise, Hanya Yanagihara takes themes from her previous novels — queerness, family, shame, love — and revisits them in this expansive story that spans 200 years, from an alternate past into a terrifyingly possible future. No matter the time period, her characters look desperately at their ordinary surroundings, and then take extraordinary risks in hopes of securing a better future for themselves and their loved ones. Recommended By Adam P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the classic A Little Life, a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia.
In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist's damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him — and solve the mystery of her husband's disappearances.
These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can't exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.
To Paradise is a fin de siecle novel of marvelous literary effect, but above all it is a work of emotional genius. The great power of this remarkable novel is driven by Yanagihara's understanding of the aching desire to protect those we love — partners, lovers, children, friends, family and even our fellow citizens — and the pain that ensues when we cannot.
"An extraordinary novel; powerfully imagined and deeply moving." The Bookseller (London)
"To Paradise is a transcendent, visionary novel of stunning scope and depth. A novel so layered, so rich, so relevant, so full of the joys and terrors — the pure mystery — of human life, is not only rare, it's revolutionary."
Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours
"Hanya Yanagihara's To Paradise is as good as War and Peace" Edmund White
About the Author
Hanya Yanagihara is the author of The People in the Trees. She lives in New York City.