Strongly written in language gray as a Paris rainfall, with moral ambiguities heavy as mist.


A lyrically detailed gay suspense novel, with romance and suspense sharing interest equally.

Will Law has quit the American foreign service after, tragically, going too far out on a limb in his Mexican posting. Seven years after their breakup, he writes his ex-lover Pedro in Paris that he’d like to see him again. Pedro, the narrator, is an art historian focusing on French architecture. He and Will spend their first three days together in bed, then go out into a bread riot backed by the ultra-rightist French Front, which wants the immigrant laws reversed—and more white Gallic babies for voting purposes. Will’s father was a top FS officer, and one of Dad’s friends has gone to great trouble to get Will reinstated in the service, with a new posting in Jakarta, but he’d be a spy. Gadol’s (The Long Rain, 1997, etc.) backgrounding in FS adds much to Will’s weight on the page. Before Will can back out of the new assignment, he meets an American, Jorie Cole, and Nico, the four-year-old son of her Lebanese lover, now in Nigeria. The skinheads from the French Front have been doing dastardly things to dark-skinned immigrants, and, as Jorie stands talking with Will, some chain-wielding skinhead terrorists swoop down on Nico and kidnap him. All kids who have earlier been kidnapped, as the French police know, eventually have been returned unharmed. As an American, Jorie is especially disillusioned about raising Nico in France, where, despite being born there, he’s not a citizen, is subjected to racial slurs daily, and has almost no rights. Will helps her through the police questioning and tries to save Nico. One good act helping Jorie recover Nico, Will thinks, will turn his life around after his Mexican fiasco. Success will, however, have its fatal demands.

Strongly written in language gray as a Paris rainfall, with moral ambiguities heavy as mist.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-20336-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

Did you like this book?