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The Great Believers is the kind of book you make time for, the kind you cancel plans and turn your phone off for. It's utterly believable, heartbreaking, and beautiful. In Makkai's hands, this generation devastated by AIDS are not victims, but fighters, resisters, and believers. I am thankful for this book.
This is the first fictional work set in the AIDS ravaged 1980's that I have read and it bowled me over. Makkai takes you there-which would be horrible, except she delivers a cast of characters who are absolutely compelling and real. You care about what happens to them. It is hard to put the book down and their stories stay with you long after you are done reading.
Makkai alternates her story between that tragic era in Chicago and Paris thirty years later. The three generations of women, the choices they make, and how those choices continue to impact their lives particularly resonated with me, along with Makkai's beautiful but tightly edited writing style. This is a book I find myself eagerly recommending to a broad and diverse readership.
— Barbette Houser
I want to call The Great Believers historical fiction, because Makkai's chronicle of Chicago in the 1980s is so pivotal to the story. I adored this story of friendships gained and lost, lovers found and rejected. This would be a great vacation read!
— Rachel Watkins
This book is exquisite. The characters seem so real I still think of them almost every day even though I finished this 6 weeks ago.
— Janet Geddis
A novel of inevitability and convergences and how our kindness, joy, and tenacity reverberates throughout time and across the globe--even as history has seemingly made its best attempt to leave these forgotten voices behind. Makkai has done a great service in her extensive research and in the care and tenderness with which she portrays her characters.
FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE IN FICTION WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL WINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR FICTION WINNER OF THE STONEWALL BOOK AWARD SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD Soon to Be a Major Television Event, optioned by Amy Poehler "A page turner . . . An absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it's like to live during times of crisis." --The New York Times Book Review A dazzling novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico's funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico's little sister. Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster. The Great Believers has become a critically acclaimed, indelible piece of literature; it was selected as one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, a Washington Post Notable Book, a Buzzfeed Book of the Year, a Skimm Reads pick, and a pick for the New York Public Library's Best Books of the year.
About the Author
Rebecca Makkai is the author of The Borrower, The Hundred-Year House, which won the Novel of the Year Award from the Chicago Writers Association, and Music for Wartime. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, Harper's, and Tin House, among others. She lives outside Chicago with her husband and two daughters.