“Set in the Chicago of the mid-80s and Paris at the time of the 2015 terrorist attacks, Makkai’s deeply affecting novel uses the AIDS epidemic and a mother’s search for her estranged daughter to explore the effects of senseless loss and our efforts to overcome it.”
Featured in New York Times’ Best Books of 2018.
“I’ve read a lot of novels and nonfiction dealing with AIDS, but no book since Randy Shilts’ And The Band Played On has affected me so powerfully as this one.”
Featured in NPR’s Best Books of 2018.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai is a novel of friendship, connection, betrayal, loss, redemption, and survival in the face of tragedy set in mid-80s Chicago and contemporary Paris. The novel tells a compelling story of people trying to keep their humanity in an extraordinary situation.
The story is about Yale Tishman, who is a successful development director for an art gallery in Chicago in 1985, finds himself in a devastating circumstance as the AIDS pandemic takes its toll on his friends, including his best companion Nico. Soon, he is only left with Nico’s little sibling Fiona.
In 2015, Fiona was in Paris to track her separated daughter, who left home to join a cult. She stayed with a famous photographer friend. Finally, she then finds herself struggling with the destructive ways the epidemic had an impact on her life and her relationship with her daughter.
The two interlinked stories take readers to the time of the 1980s Chicago when the city was grappling with the AIDS pandemic and the chaos of the contemporary world, as both Yale and Fiona try to find good amid the devastation.
The novel was featured in the New York Times Selection for Best 10 Books of the Year, The Washington Post’s Notable Book, and a Pick for the New York Public Library’s 2018 Best Books. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai was also shortlisted for the National Book Award. It received rave reviews from People Magazine, Vogue, Publishers Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, National Book Review, Minneapolis Star Tribune, among many others.