This book is that rare balance between character-driven academic literature and page-turning fiction. The plot is difficult to describe. The narrator is a scientist named Dr. Norton Perina who "discovers" a group of people on a remote island who have never had contact with the outside world. Perina is an intelligent man, but he's also pathologically narcissistic, and as he tries to investigate certain mysteries surrounding these people, he slowly destroys their culture. The end is shocking and grim--not for the faint of heart. The fact that this is Yanagihara's debut novel is simply astounding. Her follow-up novel, "A Little Life," is also a masterpiece.
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. A first novel.