To Paradise

Penguin Random House Audio. Jan. 2022. 28:47 hrs. ISBN 9780593507575. $32.50. F
Yanagihara’s (A Little Life) much-anticipated third novel explores love, regret, and the inextricable bonds of family, set against a richly imagined alternate historical backdrop. The novel is composed of three parts, with stories set in 1893, 1993, and 2093 and located in New York City and Hawai‘i. In a homophobia-free 1893, David, heir to the magnificent Bingham estate, struggles to decide whether to pursue a love match with a handsome, but unreliable younger man or submit to a sensible arranged marriage. In an AIDS-ravaged 1993, a different David chooses love and security with a wealthy older gentleman. One hundred years later, a young woman, Charlie Griffith, navigates an ecologically devastated totalitarian state in which food, pleasure, and sexuality are strictly controlled. Each of the audiobook’s five narrators delivers an outstanding performance that captures the nuances and tone of Yanagihara’s bleak novel; Edoardo Ballerini, Kurt Kanazawa, and Feodor Chin’s narrations are sensitively delivered and collectively bring out the characters’ melancholy and yearning. And the final set of stories, narrated by Catherine Ho and BD Wong, is exquisite, channeling the hesitant but deeply emotional Charlie and her tender, mournful grandfather.
VERDICT This is a transformative and superbly executed audiobook; highly recommended for all collections.
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