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To Paradise

by Hanya Yanagihara

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.

in Fiction + Short Stories
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Published January 2022

Doubleday

Hardcover, 720 pages

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“Remarkable…The emotional impact of this novel is less visceral than A LITTLE LIFE but only because the author’s scope is so vast and her dexterity so dazzling….TO PARADISE demonstrates the inexhaustible ingenuity of an author who keeps shattering expectations….she explores the dream of freedom that lures all these characters to risk everything for a paradise they desire but can barely envision.  No matter the setting – past present or future – TO PARADISE stems from the hypnotic confluence of Yanagihara’s skills.  She speaks softly, with the urgency of a whisper.  She draws us into the most intimate sympathy with these characters while placing them in crises that feel irresistibly compelling.” 
– Ron Charles, The Washington Post