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Yanagihara, Hanya

Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

(1974-    ) US journalist, editor and author best-known for first novel, the nonfantastic A Littl Life (2015). Her first novel, The People in the Trees (2013), which is of sf interest, takes some elements from the life and career of Daniel Carleton Gajdusek (1923-2008), an eminent medical researcher who identified a cure for kuru, a deadly disease afflicting the South Fore people of New Guinea through their practice of funerary cannibalism, for which he shared the Nobel Prize; two decades after this breakthrough, Gajdusek was convicted of child abuse and imprisoned. The memoirs of A Norton Perinea, protagonist of The People in the Trees, describe his voyage to the remote Pacific Islands of U'ivu, and the even remoter Ivu'ivu where he is led to a Lost Race which seems to enjoy Immortality at the cost of cognitive function: they can hardly speak. The turtles they eat at ceremonies prove to be the source of their power and limitation (see Drugs; Poison). In due course, the turtles are exterminated, the lost race decimated, the remaining culture of both islands destroyed by pharmaceutical companies looking to extract the magic ingredient; what is left of the islands is at this point devastatingly colonized (see Imperialism; Race in SF). Perinea then adopts several abandoned children, and has sexual relations with them. He is imprisoned. The tale is complexly conveyed. [JC]

Hanya K Yanagihara

born Los Angeles, California: 20 September 1974

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