I went out with my bookclub one night this week to hear American author Hanya Yanagihara in conversation with writer Benjamin Law at the Capitol Theatre, part of the Melbourne Writers Festival.
Yanagihara is the author of three novels, and she was here in Australia to discuss her third novel, To Paradise. This is a doorstopper of a novel – 700 pages – so heavy I needed to sit upright in bed to read it!
It’s a triptych – three parts to be appreciated together. The novel is an imagining of America, told through repeated characters – there is a David, Charles, Nathaniel, Edward, Peter in each section. The three sections are set one hundred years apart – in 1893, 1993 and 2093. It’s book that moves the reader along effortlessly but also requires the reader to work hard, to find connections between the characters in the different sections, think through the science on the third section and understand the history of the various settings. I do love a book that makes me work a little!
Yanagihara – as you would expect after reading her book – was articulate and thoughtful in her responses to Law’s questions. She was also humble, and so grateful for the warm response from readers.
It’s almost winter, friends – the perfect time to treat yourself to a big book with big ideas which will keep you company through the cold!