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The Great Believers

Best Seller
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Hardcover
Jun 19, 2018 | 432 Pages
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  • Paperback $16.00

    Jun 04, 2019 | 448 Pages

  • Hardcover $27.00

    Jun 19, 2018 | 432 Pages

  • Ebook $12.99

    Jun 19, 2018 | 432 Pages

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Praise

“Stirring, spellbinding and full of life.” —Téa Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife

“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. Rebecca 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

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 Livesey, New York Times bestselling author of Mercury

“In the remarkable The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai conjures up a time as startling as a dream and, in its extremity, achingly familiar to us now, close enough to hold. A tender, sly, immersive, irreverent, life force of a book.”—Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship

The Great Believers kept me up reading late into the night, and I’d wake up thinking about Makkai’s vibrant, complex, and deeply human characters. This is an immersive, heartbreaking novel—I loved it.”—Maggie Shipstead, author of Astonish Me
 
“Rebecca Makkai’s novel The Great Believers has stolen my heart. Crossing decades and lives, love and loss, art, and the long lasting legacy of AIDS, the novel is a brilliant triumph of empathy and intimacy between friends.”—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Small Backs of Children

“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
 
The Great Believers is a sprawling, wildly ambitious novel. Rebecca Makkai brings to life a large cast of characters, and weaves together the threads of her storyline with the ease and authority of a skilled magician. But in the end, what makes this novel such a rousing success is the emotional truthfulness of her characters and the way she captures the panic and rage of the period. I came to feel I knew these people, and was moved by the dilemmas and difficult choices they had to face.”—Stephen McCauley, author of My Ex-Life

The Great Believers is a magnificent novel—well imagined, intricately plotted, and deeply felt, both humane and human. It unfurls like a peony: you keep thinking it can’t get any more perfect, and it does. A stunning feat.”—Rabih Alameddine, author of The Angel of History and Koolaids: The Art of War


Praise for The Hundred-Year House

“[A] gleeful tale of ghosts, vengeance and family secrets…The darkly funny Makkai seeds the narrative with so many mysteries and surprises…that those 100 years race by.”
—People, “The Best New Books”
 
“A big-hearted gothic novel, an intergenerational mystery, a story of heartbreak and a romance, all crammed into one grand Midwestern estate….A juicy and moving story of art and love and the luck it takes for either to last.”
—Los Angeles Times
 
“An entertaining, ambitious saga ….Makkai’s lyrical prose quietly lifts off the page while her carefully crafted plot charges forward.”
—The Boston Globe
 
“A witty mystery set at a countryside estate….Makkai’s humorous, expertly orchestrated storytelling will surprise you.”
—Oprah.com, “6 Dazzling New Beach Reads”
 
“Makkai has written a novel that reads almost like early Muriel Spark — clever, competent, and concealing an unsettling and skewed reality….The hand that keeps giving the kaleidoscope another turn, controlling just how the pieces land, isn’t fate, of course. It’s the artist. Makkai is one.”
—Chicago Tribune
 
“As restless, and as sly, as the mythical Proteus, [Makkai] nimbly remakes her novel at every turn….It takes a special trick to remake the world without a reader noticing; it takes a tremendous talent to do it again and again.”
—NPR.org

Author Q&A

How did you come to write a novel about the AIDS epidemic in Chicago in particular?
Chicago was and is the third largest city in America, but most of the books and films about the epidemic out there focus on New York, San Francisco, and L.A. This meant I needed to get out from behind my desk and do some legwork. I holed up in the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago and read every issue of the Windy City Times (Chicago’s biggest gay weekly) from 1985 to 1992, and during the four years I worked on the novel I interviewed people one-on-one, in coffee shops or in their homes: doctors, nurses, activists, lawyers, survivors, people with HIV, and people who had simply been young and gay in Chicago in the ’80s. They were so incredibly generous with their time, and in the details and stories they shared. I grew up in Chicago and live here still, so it was much more interesting for me to explore what happened right here. Chicago is, in a way, the great love of my life. I’ll never get tired of it and I’ll never get tired of writing about it. Oddly, the origin of my novel was something that’s now only a small part of it: the art-scene in Paris between the two world wars. I’ve always been fascinated by that time, and by the “Ecole de Paris” set-· the young artists who came to Paris from around the world-and although that shrank to a subplot of the novel, something we hear stories about but don’t see firsthand, it’s still there and still important. The sections in 2015 with Fiona were actually a later addition to the story. I’d written about 150 pages thinking the book was just going to be about the ’80s before I realized I needed to go back and forth in time.

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