Land of the Free
Hanya Yanagihara and Marte Spurkland
American Hanya Yanagihara was lauded by critics and readers across the world for her magnificent novel A Little Life. The novel was shortlisted for both the Man Book prize and the US National Book Award. Now, seven years later, Yanagihara has returned with a new novel, which is equally expansive and equally beautiful and raw. The scope of this novel, however, is vastly larger than her previous one.
To Paradise consists of three parts, all connected through the same building in Washington Square, New York. We find ourselves in an alternative New York in the 1890s, in which same sex marriage is legal, in the 1990s, in the shadow of the AIDS epidemic, and in the 2090s, in a pandemic-ridden and authoritarian New York resembling Margaret Atwood’s Gilead. All three parts center around themes such as alienation and love, and safety versus freedom, highlighting the situation for sexual and ethnic minorities.
How are the lives of individuals shaped by the political framework in a society? And how much freedom are we willing to part with in the face of adversity?
One of Yanagihara’s many devoted readers is journalist and writer Marte Spurkland. She has recently published the book Ut av krisen (“Out of the crisis”), in which she follows a handful of people who in different ways have experienced life-altering crises during the pandemic. She will join Yanagihara in conversation on our stage for what is her first visit to Norway.