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Publisher's Summary

Listeners of exciting, challenging, and visionary literary fiction - including admirers of Norman Rush's Mating, Ann Patchett's State of Wonder, Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible, and Peter Matthiessen's At Play in the Fields of the Lord - will be drawn to this astonishingly gripping and accomplished first novel. A decade in the writing, this is an anthropological adventure story that combines the visceral allure of a thriller with a profound and tragic vision of what happens when cultures collide. It is a book that instantly catapults Hanya Yanagihara into the company of young novelists who really, really matter.

In 1950, a young doctor called Norton Perina signs on with the anthropologist Paul Tallent for an expedition to the remote Micronesian island of Ivu'ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. They succeed, finding not only that tribe but also a group of forest dwellers they dub "The Dreamers", who turn out to be fantastically long-lived but progressively more senile. Perina suspects the source of their longevity is a hard-to-find turtle; unable to resist the possibility of eternal life, he kills one and smuggles some meat back to the States. He scientifically proves his thesis, earning worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize, but he soon discovers that its miraculous property comes at a terrible price. As things quickly spiral out of his control, his own demons take hold, with devastating personal consequences.

*This audiobook includes a downloadable PDF that contains a map and the Appendix from the book.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2021 Hanya Yanagihara (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"One of the year's best books.... Driven by Yanagihara's gorgeously complete imaginary ethnography on the one hand and, on the other, by her brilliantly detestable narrator, this debut novel is compelling on every level - morally, aesthetically, and narratively." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"[The People in the Trees] is exhaustingly inventive and almost defiant in its refusal to offer redemption or solace - but that is arguable one of its virtues. As for Yanagihara, she is a writer to marvel at." (The New York Times Book Review) 

"The People in the Trees is a haunting story of moral absolutes confounded by a seemingly empirical understanding of the merciless caprices of nature.... A standout novel, a debut as thrilling as it is disturbing." (The Wall Street Journal

What listeners say about The People in the Trees

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

How to talk about this....

This definitely one of the strangest, often confusing, and totally disgusting books I have ever read. I had just finished A LITTLE LIFE by Ms. Yanagihara and immediately wanted to read more of her work. She writes beautifully, no matter the subject she is dealing with.
This book is fiction but based on an actual case, many years ago, in which a Nobel,Prize winner for medicine was convicted and imprisoned for sexual abuse of minors.
In this book, a medical doctor and doctor of anthropology go to the eastern Pacific islands to find a tribe of people who live for 200 yrs or more but, as they grow older, they lose their minds. All this is because of a certain rare species of turtle that is the mainstay of their diets.
Once they meet up with this tribe, they become witness to the tribe’s sexual practices involving children and they are disgusting.
An aside: I don’t know much about the author’s background but in both of her books, she delves heavily into child rape and anal sex and, in both books, it’s particularly shocking to read.
Other than that, it’s a fascinating story, wonderfully written, and sad and shocking right till the last sentence.

8 people found this helpful

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When a writer can make you second guess yourself

This book was recommended as a heartbreaking book and I believe it did exactly that. I personally enjoyed the way Norton was built up and how we got to “know” him through his memoirs. How you oddly start to feel sorry and empathize with this sad character and think perhaps you can understand why he made his decisions. I second guessed myself until the heartbreaking end. I was in the middle of baking cookies and had to sit down. Definitely not a book for all, but for some, it’s an excellent story by an excellent writer.

3 people found this helpful

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Difficult

The story was well written, I just have trouble reconciling with a character I do not like. I am uneasy after finishing the story. I have more thoughts, but I’ll save them for a two sided conversation.

Narration was perfect.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing

I absolutely loved this book. the voice acting was superb, they really embodied those characters. this book had the same issue i have with a little life is how the author talks about *pedo* matters. I feel like she could have said what happened without any detail. There are no likeable characters in this book just fyi.

1 person found this helpful

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An interesting look into the mind of a monster

This book is far too long, and I could have done without the constant side notes that are interjected. However, it is an interesting look into the mind of a vile, hateful, repulsive monster. If you’re into that sort of thing.

1 person found this helpful

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Chance of confusion

(Possible spoilers) The majority of the book had me in question as to why it was leading itself on an entire different topic than the one addressed in the very beginning. And from what I’ve concluded it seems to me to be more focused on a build of character than the build of story. The entire time reading I kept seeing all of Norton’s decision, and thoughts revolving around those decisions, introduce us to the person he becomes. The author leaving us on this constant teetering of, is he innocent or is he guilty, never affirming his verdict, but certainly at some points alluding to the validity of it. Purely based on the way the character perceived his own story, made me want to sympathize with him, but I still had a general altogether dislike for the character in all. For his selfishness, lack of empathy, bigotry, and wrongful self-righteousness. I love the author, I love the writing style, I love the psychological awareness this book focuses on and forces you to ponder on. While a grotesque subject, and a twist of character perspective we don’t normally get, it was beautifully done and I’m glad the author thought so outside the box and outside social norms to write this even though the backlash could be severe. She is not glorifying her character, as I think some of the readers assume, but showing us a rare look inside the mind of people who behave this way.

1 person found this helpful

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painfully terrible

I endured because I loved A Little Life by this author but this story didn't have one single likeable character. It was depressing without any beauty or focus. dreadful.

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Conflicted.

Brilliant writing. Captivating narration. Intriguing plot. Horrific, triggering ending. I would not recommend to anyone with history of trauma.