Today on Instagram, Hanya Yanagihara shared the cover of her next novel, To Paradise, which will be published by Doubleday on January 11, 2022. Yanagihara, who is not only a novelist but the editor in chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, has a well-honed aesthetic sense, and a reputation for very good book covers (you may remember a little book I like to call A Little Life?). On Instagram, Yanagihara wrote:
I told the brilliant and patient designer, Na Kim, that I wanted something that felt somewhat old-fashioned, yet also timeless. (We knew early on that we wanted a figurative cover, as opposed to an all-text or graphic one.) The image we chose is “I’okepa, Hawaiian Fisher Boy” (1898), by the Dutch painter Hubert Vos: we both loved how wary his expression is, and how modern the portrait appears. Na made the design a little more contemporary by rendering my name in a neon pastel; the title will be in a matte gold foil.
The publisher describes To Paradise as “a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia.” Here’s the official description:
In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him—and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.
These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.
To Paradise is a fin de siecle novel of marvelous literary effect, but above all it is a work of emotional genius. The great power of this remarkable novel is driven by Yanagihara’s understanding of the aching desire to protect those we love—partners, lovers, children, friends, family and even our fellow citizens—and the pain that ensues when we cannot.