Seven years have elapsed since Hanya Yanagihara took the literary world by storm with her sophomore novel, A Little Life. With its rollercoaster of an emotional ride, the book was an unexpected success, even getting shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. It did take some time before she came up with her third novel. Her long-awaited third book, To Paradise, finally hit the stands in the first quarter of 2022. With the sensitivity and the plethora of themes and subjects it has explored, the book has certainly divided many a reader. However, one thing was for sure, To Paradise demonstrated Yanagihara’s prowess as a writer. Her latest work was riddled with beautiful passages and lines. In this quotable quotes update, I have rounded some of the most memorable lines from the book.

Do check out my complete review of this literary work by clicking here.


He felt at times as if his life were something he was only waiting to use up, so that, at the end of each day, he would settle into bed with a sigh, knowing he had worked through a small bit more of his existence and had moved another centimeter towards its natural conclusion.”

~ Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise

What he wouldn’t know until he was much older was that no one was ever free, that to know someone and to love them was to assume the task of remembering them, even if that person was still living. No one could escape that duty, and as you aged, you grew to crave that responsibility even as you sometimes resented it, that knowledge that your life was inextricable from another’s, that a person marked their existance in part by their association with you.”

~ Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise

My identity changed with the neighborhood I found myself in. In midtown, they thought I might be black, but in Harlem, they knew I wasn’t. I was spoken to in Spanish and Portuguese and Italian and even Hindi, and when I answered, “I’m Hawaiian,” I would invariably be told that they or their brother or cousin had been there after the war, and asked what I was doing up here, so far from home, when I could be on the beach with a pretty little hula girl. I never had an answer to these questions, but they didn’t expect one – it was all they knew to ask, but no one wanted to hear what I had to say.”

~ Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise

I know that loneliness cannot be fully eradicated by the presence of another; but I also know that a companion is a shield, and without another person, loneliness steals in, a phantom seeping through the windows and down your throat, filling you with a sorrow nothing can answer. I cannot promise that my granddaughter won’t be lonely, but I have prevented her from being alone. I have made certain that her life will have a witness.”

~ Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise

They wouldn’t have starved to death in a week or even two. Was it the shock of being outdoors? Was it the fragility of their immune systems? Or was it something for which there is no clinical name? Was it despair? Was it giving up of life? For surely they could have found help, couldn’t they? They had a way to communicate with the outside world. Why had they not tried harder to do so, unless, perhaps, they had enough of life itself, of being alive?”

~ Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise

He had come to realize that it was when you were dying that people most wanted things from you – they wanted you to remember, they wanted reassurance, they wanted forgiveness. They wanted acknowledgment and redemption; they wanted you to make them feel better – about the fact that you were leaving while they remained; about the fact that they hated you for leaving them and dreaded it, too; about the fact that your death was reminding them of their own inevitable one; about the fact that they were so uncomfortable that they didn’t know what to say.”

~ Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise

If you’re lucky, that is. You should always have a close friend you’re slightly afraid of.” Why? “Because it means that you’ll have someone in your life who really challenges you, who forces you to become better in some way, in whatever way you’re most scared of: Their approval is what’ll hold you accountable.”

~ Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise

The problem, though with trying to be the ideal anything is that eventually the definition changes, and you realize that what you’d been pursuing all along was not a single truth but a set of expectations determined by context. You leave that context, and you leave behind those expectations, too, and then you’re nothing once again.”

~ Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise

Or is because you’ve let yourselves sleep, because you let yourselves forget? You live in a land not of milk and honey but of sugar and sun. You’ve become complacent on it. And what’s happened while you surfed and sang and swayed your hips? Your land, your very soul, has been taken from you, bit by bit by bit, right beneath your brown noses, while you watched it happen and did nothing – nithing – to stop it. Anyone watching you would think you wanted to give it all up.”

~ Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise

But fear makes many of us do things that we regret, things we never though we were capable of doing. You’re so young; you’ve spent almost your entire life living alongside death and the possibility of death – you’ve become inured to it, which is heartbreaking.”

~ Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise

We have learned to accommodate that person as much as we can, to ignore who we know ourselves to be. Most of the time, we’re successful. We must be. Pretending is the cost of sanity. But we all know who we really are. If we had lived, it is because we are worse that we ever believed ourselves to be, not better. Indeed, it feels at times as if all who remain are those who were wily or tenacious or scheming enough to survive. I know that this belief is its own kind of romance, but in my more fanciful moments, it makes perfect sense – we are left – behind the dregs, the rats fighting for bits of rotten food, the people who chose to stay on earth, while those better and smarter than we are have left some other realm we can only dream of, the door to which we’re too frightened to open, even to peek inside.”

~ Hanya Yanagihara, To Paradise