The Great Believers

The Great Believers

4.25 (105,401 ratings by Goodreads)
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4.25 (105,401 ratings by Goodreads)

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A New York Times Top Ten Best Book of 2018

'I loved this book' Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup: bringing 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, he finds his partner is infected, and that he might even have the virus himself. 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 epidemic, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways the AIDS crisis affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. Yale and Fiona's stories unfold in incredibly moving and sometimes surprising ways, as both struggle to find goodness in the face of disaster.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 432 pages
  • 166 x 244 x 36mm | 695g
  • Fleet
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0708899137
  • 9780708899137
  • 75,679

Review quote

Stylish and ambitious . . . a deeply affecting novel that is full of death, yet simultaneously spirited and hopeful about love and life * Observer * Makkai has created a moving story about Chicago and Paris, the past and present, the young men lost to AIDS and the ones who survived. And just as her novel evokes art's power to commemorate the departed, The Great Believers is itself a poignant work of memoir * Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Sympathizer * This expansive, huge-hearted novel conveys the scale of the trauma that was the early AIDS crisis, and conveys, too, the scale of the anger and love that rose up to meet it. Makkai shows us characters who are devastated but not defeated, who remain devoted, in the face of death, to friendship and desire and joyful, irrepressible life. I loved this book * Garth Greenwell author of What Belongs to You * Time is a healer and a heartbreaker in Makkai's brilliant and beautiful novel. The Great Believers kept me hoping and guessing, heart in hand, until the very last page * Carol Rifka Brunt, author of Tell the Wolves I'm Home * an antidote to our general urge to forget what we'd rather not remember, but it's also - which is more important - an absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it's like to live during times of crisis -- Michael Cunningham * New York Times * Stirring, spellbinding and full of life -- Tea Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger's Wife The Great Believers is by turns funny, harrowing, tender, devastating, and always hugely suspenseful. It reminds us, poignantly, of how many people, mostly young, often brilliant, were lost to the AIDS epidemic, and of how those who survived were marked by that struggle. This is Rebecca Makkai at the height of her powers * Margot Livesy, New York Times bestselling author of Mercury * Well imagined, intricately plotted, and deeply felt, both humane and human -- Rabih Alameddine, author of The Angel of History and An Unnecessary Woman Sure to become a classic Chicago novel . . . a deft, harrowing novel that's as beautiful as its cover * Chicago Review of Books * Magnificent . . . it doesn't set a foot wrong . . . Makkai has full command of her multi-generational perspective, and by its end, The Great Believers offers a grand fusion of the past and the present, the public and the personal. It's remarkably alive * Chicago Tribune * The Great Believers is beautiful and compelling * Running in Heels * Spookily relevant in the age of Trump. Makkai has created a gorgeous and compassionate narrative, one which asks how we can move forward from disaster * Rumpus * A sprawling, heart-wrenching novel * Refinery29 * Makkai handles her material with humour and sensitivity, ensuring that we truly care when the tentacles of Aids
begin to engulf Yale, Fiona and their friends. At its heart too it is a devastating secret . . . As a novel of the Aids crisis The Great Believers is a powerful, beautifully handled addition to the canon. As an exploration of the cost of living with guilt, grief and the terrible power of even a little hope, it is magnificent * i news * Makkai creates a powerful, unforgettable meditation, not on death, but rather on the power and gift of life. This novel will undoubtedly touch the hearts and minds of readers * Publishers Weekly * Makkai's rich portraits of an array of big personalities and her affecting depiction of random, horrific death faced with varying degrees of gallantry make this tender, keening novel an impressive act of imaginative empathy. As compulsively readable as it is thoughtful and moving: an unbeatable fictional combination * Kirkus *
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About Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Best American Fantasy, Harper's, Tin House, Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Indiana Review, Michigan Quarterly Review and New England Review, among others. She lives outside Chicago with her husband and two daughters.
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Rating details

105,401 ratings
4.25 out of 5 stars
5 50% (52,942)
4 33% (34,932)
3 11% (11,620)
2 3% (3,269)
1 3% (2,638)
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