The People in the Trees

Yanagihara, Hanya

(Book - 2013)
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
The People in the Trees
Joining an anthropologist's 1950 expedition to discover a lost tribe on a remote Micronesian island, a young doctor investigates and proves a theory that the tribe's considerable longevity is linked to a rare turtle, a finding that brings worldwide fame and unexpected consequence.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2013.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 0385536771
Characteristics: 368 p. :,maps ;,25 cm.


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Aug 29, 2014
  • geezr_rdr rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

This is not an enjoyable book, particularly in the Kindle format, where the footnotes are a particular irritation. The monologues by the chronic whiner Nobel laureate, Norton Perina, required a large amount of text skimming in order to get to relevant clumps of the story. The purpose for this book may be the portrayal of a supremely self-justified individual as a model for a celebrated scientist, but the portrayal is flawed in that Norton doesn't really have the chops (the ability) to be successful, due in part to excessive mental wanking without a moral or ethical framework. In my opinion, an interesting concept but mediocre execution.

Feb 22, 2014
  • whitkat2002 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A compelling read. I loved the layering of narrative...the self-deprecating journal entries, the news items, and the overall blind love of a man who pulls together the story of abuse--to both old and young--without prejudice. Of course, the theme of living longer but with dementia strikes home. But the theme that intrigued me was how we can sometimes accept or overlook the dark side--or simply narcissism--of people if they are brilliant or successful in some way. How many of us, and how often, we are protected by social connections, fame, or simple infatuation. . .a startling and thoughtful read on so many levels.

Nov 21, 2013
  • quagga rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Dr. Norton Perina is a fascinating character, a closeted gay man who seems nearly incapable of experiencing emotion.

Oct 20, 2013
  • brianreynolds rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Hanya Yanagihara's The People in the Trees reads so much like a non-fiction memoir that it's difficult to review it as a story. The themes of the book—the conflict between anthropology and science, the destruction of indigenous culture, the impact of media on scientific investigation, and finally childhood sexuality and pedophilia—are bravely explored through the very believable voice of Dr. Norton Perina during the second half of the twentieth century. But the story, aside from his recounting of his adult life up until his release from prison at age 73, seems to hang on two questions that are "answered" in the Preface: Will Norton discover an actual way of extending human life to ages in excess of several centuries and will he be found guilty of the sexual assault of a minor? While Trees reads like a heroic adventure, since Dr. Perina sees his life in that light, the novel's punch lies in the irony of stasis. In isolation, anthropology and science, both fail to adequately deal with the clash of cultures. Without popular support, science doesn't go very far; with it, science is often expropriated or manipulated for interests that wind up being destructive. It is not just possible, but probable, that people who are smart and generous about some things can be foolish and criminal about others. This was an intriguing read, an exceptional example of how prose from a learned voice can be both beautiful and moving.


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