A Little Life

By HanyaYanagihara
Genre: Literary Fiction
Buy Now This book is on reading list for September 2016

Discussion Questions

1.  Hanya Yanagihara stated in a Newsweek interview that “All life is small…. Life will end in death and unhappiness, but we do it anyway.” Is that why the novel is entitled A Little Life? Do the characters in the novel have small lives? Does this novel offer a pessimistic view of mankind and inability to heal?

2. Which characters seem most real? Most outlandish? For whom do you have the most compassion?

3. How do they work together as a cast of characters? What is the role of friendship and community? How does Jude’s disability affect their relationships?

4. What does Jude’s journey represent? Relate his character development to that of Willem, JB, and Malcolm? How does Andy figure into this foursome?

5. What does the adoption by Harold and Julia signify? Does Jude accept them as parents?

6. Some of the characters have fluid gender, racial, and sexual identities. Is this important to the novel?

7. What is the axiom of equality, and why is mathematics important to Jude? Consider what Jude thinks on page 784: “He saw his life as the axiom of equality, but they saw it as another riddle, one with no name–Jude=x–and they filled in the x in ways Brother Luke, the counselors at the home, Dr. Traylor had never written for him or encouraged him to write for himself. He wishes he could believe their proofs the way they do; he wishes they had shown him how they had arrived at their solutions. If he knew how they had solved the proof, he thinks, he would know why to keep living.”

8. Is the reader provoked to the limits of her own compassion and understanding? Were there times when you had to put the novel down?

9. Is this a novel worth enduring? Why or why not?



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