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The People in the Trees

by Hanya Yanagihara

Book list Debut novelist Yanagihara tackles some ambitious and deeply vexing scientific and personal conundrums. By way of protagonist Dr. Norton Perina's memoir, the story unfolds of a lost tribe of Micronesian natives who have discovered the secret of immortality. At first anthropologist Paul Tallent and associate Esme Duff invite Perina along on what they describe as an investigation into a myth, but their real hope is to confirm the tribe's existence. After many pages of overlong, obtuse, parenthetical sentences describing the island's dense jungle, readers will be relieved when the team finally happens upon the fabled tribe. Despite the language barrier, Tallent convinces the leaders that the team means them no harm; they only want to learn about tribal customs. While the anthropologists take notes, Perina snoops around until he discovers the tribe's secret to immortality and, in time, exploits and abuses it for his own despicable purposes. Perina is a delightfully black-hearted protagonist trapped inside Yanagihara's unfortunately inelegant prose.--Chavez, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Yanagihara's debut novel details the life of fictional doctor and Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Abraham Norton Perina, who narrates his travels to the Micronesian islands of Ivu'ivu and U'ivu, where the secret to longevity is revealed to him. Perina learns that members of a primitive tribe who live to be 60 years old (o'anas) are given the privilege during a special ceremony of consuming the meat of the opa'ivu'eke, a rare turtle. He soon finds out, however, that there is an unfortunate side effect to living up to 200 o'anas. Upon his return stateside, Perina continues his research and regular visits to the islands, gradually adopting 43 island children who he is later accused of sexually abusing. -VERDICT Yanagihara's work, which appears to be loosely based on the life of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, is fast-moving and intriguing, although it does darken toward the end. Yanagihara is definitely an author to watch. [See Prepub Alert, 2/18/13.]-Shirley Quan, Orange Cty. P.L. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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