‘I don’t think I’m a particularly bleak writer,’ Hanya Yanagihara says of To Paradise.


‘I don’t feel I’m a particularly bleak writer,’ Hanya Yanagihara says of To Paradise.

The author talks about America, the response to her books, and why she still needs a day job as the sequel to A Little Life is released.

It’s the middle of the year, and Hanya Yanagihara, one of America’s most popular – and divisive – novelists, is hard at work.

“I’m in the office,” she says, peering out the window at Manhattan’s grimiest corner, Port Authority Bus Station.

“It’s completely devoid of people.”

Yanagihara, despite being a hugely successful author whose 2015 novel A Little Life, about four friends in New York, sold a million copies and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, still has a day job editing The New York Times’ style magazine, T, and thus must limit her fiction writing to the evenings.

“You have to work in the United States because you need health insurance,” she explains.

“Also, when it comes to glossy magazines, I have the best job in the American media.”

I have a lot of freedom and can pretty much do whatever I want.”

With the release of her third book, To Paradise, she will once again be put to the test in terms of time management.

The Hawaiian-Korean novelist, 47, doesn’t know how to write short books; her latest novel – all 720 pages of it – is set in an alternate US during three different eras, with the only constant being a grand house in New York’s Washington Square.

It begins in 1893 in America’s so-called “free states,” where gay marriage is widely practiced but true love remains a stumbling block.

The next section takes place 100 years later, when Aids is rampant, and much of the story revolves around a long dinner party at which one of the guests is “lucky enough” to be dying of cancer rather than Aids.

Finally, in 2093, the United States has devolved into a totalitarian state ravaged by global warming and successive pandemics, with people’s lives being cut short by illness.

“Shrunken faces, softened teeth, hair loss, boil-covered extremities,” Yanagihara writes.

“Survival rates are dismal.”

If To Paradise begins optimistically, it quickly devolves into despair.

One reviewer in the United States was perplexed as to why the novel had not been published in the United States.

UK news summary from Infosurhoy

Hanya Yanagihara on To Paradise: ‘I don’t feel I’m a particularly gloomy writer. I offer honesty and truth’

What I’m reading now…

Tell Them I Said No by Martin Herbert

“It’s a series of essays about contemporary artists who have made the decision to drop out of the art world.”

What I’m reading next…

The Candy House By Jennifer Egan

“It’s the follow-up to A Visit From the Goon Squad [due out in the UK in April]. I loved that first book, so I’m very happy she’s back with this.”

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