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Reading ‘A Little Life’ in Freetown

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The book: A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara

The place: Freetown


Every so often, a book comes along that feels as if it’s been beamed into the world directly from my subconscious. The last book I felt this way about was Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that speaks as directly to my id as A Little Life. That’s not to say it’s the best book I’ve ever read (I think it is very, very good indeed, and although I feel far too emotionally involved to objectively judge its worth, the Man Booker shortlisters agree), or even my favourite book – much of it is so intense and so painful to read that I’m torn between gulping it down convulsively and taking regular breaks to maintain perspective. But it’s not often I feel quite so personally about a book as with this one.


I’ve been in Freetown for about a week and a half, which is humid and damp and finding itself in the (hopefully) post-Ebola world. I’m accustomed enough to countries that have experienced conflict or serious unrest, and so it’s an interesting shift to spend some time in a place that’s recovering from a different kind of crisis (though of course Sierra Leone’s no stranger to conflict, either). I’ve been spending a lot of time in meetings, or holed up working in my hotel room, or eating barracuda carpaccio, which is ubiquitous and delicious and I don’t understand why this is the only place I’ve ever eaten it. I like this city very much indeed.


Written by Jess

October 17, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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