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Hanya Yanagihara

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Hanya Yanagihara
Yanagihara in 2012
Yanagihara in 2012
Born1974 (age 49–50)
Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Author
  • writer
  • journalist
Alma materSmith College

Hanya Yanagihara (born 1974)[1] is an American novelist, editor, and travel writer. She grew up in Hawaii.[2] She is best known for her bestselling novel A Little Life, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Booker Prize, and for being the editor-in-chief of T Magazine.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Hanya Yanagihara was born in 1974 in Los Angeles.[1] Her father, hematologist/oncologist[2] Ronald Yanagihara, is from Hawaii, and her mother was born in Seoul.[5] Yanagihara is partly of Japanese descent through her father and partly of Korean descent through her mother.[6][7] As a child, Yanagihara moved frequently with her family, living in Hawaii, New York, Maryland, California and Texas.[8] She attended the Punahou School in Hawaii[9] before graduating from Smith College in 1995.[10]

Yanagihara has said that her father introduced her as a girl to the work of Philip Roth and to "British writers of a certain age", such as Anita Brookner, Iris Murdoch, and Barbara Pym.[11] Of Pym and Brookner, she says, "there is a suspicion of the craft that the male writers of their generation didn't have, a metaphysical reckoning of what is it actually doing for the world".[11] She has said that "the contemporary writers I admire most are Hilary Mantel, Kazuo Ishiguro, and John Banville".[12]


After college, Yanagihara moved to New York and worked for several years as a publicist.[2] She wrote and was an editor for Condé Nast Traveler.[11]

Her first novel, The People in the Trees, partly based on the real-life case of the virologist Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, was praised as one of the best novels of 2013.[1][2]

Yanagihara's A Little Life was published on March 10, 2015, and received widespread critical acclaim.[13][14] The book was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for fiction,[15] the 2016 Women's Prize for Fiction[6][16] and won the 2015 Kirkus Prize for fiction.[17] Yanagihara was also selected as a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Fiction.[18] A Little Life defied the expectations of its editor, of Yanagihara's agent, and of the author herself, that it would not sell well.[19]

Yanagihara described writing the book at its best as "glorious as surfing; it felt like being carried aloft on something I couldn't conjure but was lucky enough to have caught, if for just a moment. At its worst, I felt I was somehow losing my ownership over the book. It felt, oddly, like being one of those people who adopt a tiger or lion when the cat's a baby and cuddly and manageable, and then watch in dismay and awe when it turns on them as an adult".[12]

In 2015, she left Condé Nast to become a deputy editor at T: The New York Times Style Magazine. She has said that after her sophomore novel became a best seller, people in the publishing industry were baffled by her decision to take a job at T.[11] Describing the publishing world as "a provincial community, more or less as snobby as the fashion industry", she said, "I'd get these underhanded comments like, 'oh, I never knew there were words [in T Magazine] worth reading'". Of working as an editor while writing fiction on the side, she says, "I've never done it any other way".[11] In 2017, she became the editor-in-chief of T.[4]

Yanagihara's third novel, To Paradise, was published on January 11, 2022, and reached number one on The New York Times Best Seller list.[20][21]

Awards and honours[edit]

Works and publications[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Max, D. T. (January 10, 2022), "Hanya Yanagihara's Audience of One", The New Yorker
  2. ^ a b c d Nazaryan, Alexander (March 19, 2015). "Author Hanya Yanagihara's Not-So-Little Life". Newsweek. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "A Little Life | The Booker Prizes". thebookerprizes.com. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  4. ^ a b "T Magazine's New Editor: From Glossies to Global Vision". The New York Times. August 21, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  5. ^ "Talking with Hanya Yanagihara About Her Debut Novel, The People in the Trees". Vogue. August 12, 2013. Archived from the original on September 16, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d "Hanya Yanagihara: 'I have the right to write about whatever I want'". The Guardian. January 9, 2022. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  7. ^ Development, PodBean. "Episode 30 - Hanya Yanagihara: A Little Life - Part 3". Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  8. ^ Adams, Tim (July 26, 2015). "Hanya Yanagihara: 'I wanted everything turned up a little too high'". The Observer.
  9. ^ Kidd, James (January 5, 2014). "Maverick in a Pacific Tempest: Hanya Yanagihara on being a first novel sensation". The Independent. Archived from the original on May 9, 2022. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  10. ^ Hagan, Molly (February 2016). "Hanya Yanagihara". Current Biography. 77 (2): 91–95.
  11. ^ a b c d e Brockes, Emma (April 22, 2018). "Hanya Yanagihara: influential magazine editor by day, best-selling author by night". The Guardian. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Masad, Ilana (August 5, 2015). "'I Wouldn'tve Had a Biography at All': The Millions Interviews Hanya Yanagihara". The Millions. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  13. ^ Sacks, Sam (March 6, 2015). "Fiction Chronicle: Jude, the Obscure". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  14. ^ Maloney, Jennifer. "How A Little Life Became a Sleeper Hit". WSJ. Retrieved December 11, 2022.
  15. ^ "The Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2015 shortlist is revealed". The Man Booker Prize. September 15, 2015. Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  16. ^ a b "A Little Life". Women's Prize for Fiction. Archived from the original on November 21, 2022. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  17. ^ a b "Book Reviews, Sites, Romance, Fantasy, Fiction". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  18. ^ a b "A Little Life". National Book Foundation. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  19. ^ Maloney, Jennifer (September 3, 2015). "How A Little Life Became a Sleeper Hit". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  20. ^ Singh-Kurtz, Sangeeta (April 14, 2021). "The Author of A Little Life Has a New Book". The Cut. Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  21. ^ "To Paradise, by Hanya Yanagihara". www.panmacmillan.com. Retrieved January 12, 2022.
  22. ^ The Canadian Press (April 11, 2017). "Dublin literary award short list announced". Metroland Media Group. Archived from the original on December 27, 2023. Retrieved December 27, 2023.

External links[edit]