The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers

FINALIST FOR THE PULITZER PRIZE IN FICTIONWINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDALWINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR FICTION WINNER OF THE STONEWALL BOOK AWARDSHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDSoon to Be a Major Television Event, optioned by Amy Poehler A dazzling new novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary ParisIn 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art ...

Details The Great Believers

TitleThe Great Believers
Release DateJun 4th, 2019
PublisherPenguin Books
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, LGBT, Literary Fiction

Reviews The Great Believers

  • Rebecca Makkai
    Only giving this five stars because I'm married to the author's husband.
  • Dan
    In a weird way, I feel that this is the sweeping gay masterpiece that A Little Life should’ve been. It’s a nice long read about a close-knit group of gay friends and their straight allies that jumps back and forth between the height of the AIDS crisis in Chicago and present day Paris. Makkai does a pretty clever thing here by drawing parallels between the Lost Generation from WWI and survivors of the AIDS crisis. Ordinarily, when I read books...
  • Larry H
    I'm between 3.5 and 4 stars, rounding up.At the start of The Great Believers , Rebecca Makkai's beautifully poignant yet meandering new novel, it is 1985, and Yale Tishman and his partner, Charlie, are preparing for the memorial service for Nico, a friend who has recently died of AIDS.The gay community in Chicago where they live has been devastated by this recently discovered disease, as have gay communities across the country. The sense of loss...
  • Richard Derus
    DNF @ p.148What, I hear you thinking, is wrong with this old man? DNF a five-star read? Five-star a DNF? ::side-eye::The fact is that I lived this story. I lost the love of my life to AIDS, and attended far too many funerals and memorial services before I was 30. So I really just can't finish the book. I am not up for those wounding memories to be poked with a stick.The prose is exemplary in its economy and precision, both qualities I admire grea...
  • Chris
    I read this novel when it was first published in 2018 and I was gobsmacked by how spectacular every moment was -- and by the rich panorama Rebecca Makkah created of Chicago in the 1980s and Paris in 2015.I was so enamored with it and I missed the characters so much that last month I bought the audiobook so I could experience it once again.And I loved it even more. Michael Crouch's narration is spectacular: so many voices, all distinct, and he cap...
  • Diane S ☔
    4.5 The story opens with the death of a young gay man, named Nico. Disowned by this family for his sexual preference, that is all but his younger sister, Fiona, who is with him until the end. This is her introduction into the gay community, a community that will embrace her as she embraces them. It is the eighties in Chicago, Boys town and the AIDS epidemic is in full swing. We meet many of these young men, so many whose families have cut them lo...
  • Angela M
    The Great Believers 3.5 stars rounded up 1980s Chicago, the devastating AIDS epidemic seen through the eyes of a group of gay friends as they slowly lose so many in their circle of friends, reflects the time in a realistic way . Fiona who has lost her loving brother and many of their friends over the years travels in to Paris in 2015, connecting with Richard an old friend from those times, as she searches for her daughter and the grandchild she h...
  • Michael
    My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.Alternating between present-day Paris and '80s Chicago, The Great Believers explores the impact and aftermath of the AIDS epidemic on a close-knit group of friends living in Boystown. The novel tells three stories, through two perspectives. In the main plot, Yale Tishman struggles to cope with the illness and loss of his friends, and placate a jealous partner who fea...
  • Roman Clodia
    There’s an important story here (at least in the 1985 strand) as AIDS cuts through the Chicago gay community – but something about Makkai’s style left me feeling mostly disengaged from it in emotional terms. Sure, I had moments of anger as we witness a dead man’s parents exclude his lover from the funeral, the horrible voyeurism that makes a thing of a man being gay, black, whatever. But overall I was never able to get involved or attache...
  • switterbug (Betsey)
    When my best friend, Wade, died of complications of the AIDS virus in 1992, I was devastated and broken. If it weren’t for my fiancé (now husband), I may have spiraled into a dark, depressing space for a long time. Makkai’s book brought it all back to me—the despair, the secrets, and the shame that was forced upon my friend from the virus and the politics of the time. Even though the locale (Chicago/Paris) in Makkai’s novel is different ...
  • Meike
    Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2019 FinalistWinner of the Carnegie Medal for FictionA global crisis that has taken the lives of 35,4 million people, changing the face of the world forever - no, this is not a dystopia, Rebecca Makkai wrote the Great American Novel about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic (which is ongoing; here's the latest data: The author introduces us to a circle of friends in mid-80's Chi...
  • Jessica Jeffers
    "But what a burden, to be Horatio. To be the one with the memory." Like many others of a certain age who are fans of musical theater, I went through a phase in my late teens and early twenties where I thought Rent was the most amazing piece of art ever created. A lot about the show hasn’t aged well—just pay your rent, guys—but it’s still a moving remembrance of a very particular time and place: New York during the AIDS epidemic of the 198...
  • Esil
    3.5 starsI really loved the themes running through The Great Believers, but I was a little less enthusiastic about the delivery.The story is told in two timelines. The first timeline runs from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s, and it is focused on a group of characters affected by the AIDS epidemic in Chicago. The story is told from Yale’s perspective, who is seeing many of his friends getting sick and dying. Much of his story focuses on the brea...
  • Emily May
    I found The Great Believers really dry and boring. It's about the AIDs epidemic and a group of gay friends, split between 1985 and 2015, and yet this subject that should have been deeply emotional left me cold. I didn't care for the characters and there were huge chunks that could have (and should have) been cut out.The Heart's Invisible Furies and The House of Impossible Beauties also look at this time period and do a much better job of it, in m...
  • Nadia
    Set in Chicago in 1985, The Great Believers offers a gritty depiction of the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s. The story begins with a funeral where a group of gay men are burying one of their friends, the first victim of the epidemic. The theme reminded me of The Heart's Invisible Furies which is one of my favourite books, but sadly, The Great Believers failed to make the same impression. Although I can appreciate why the book has been ...
  • Jaclyn Crupi
    We get the day off to stay in bed and read big, brave and beautiful books. This is one of the year’s best and explores the realities and legacies of the AIDS epidemic through parallel narratives. It will make you fucking furious and it will instil deep faith in our shared humanity. It’s one of those great American novels that I love SO MUCH! My heart hurts and I feel profoundly altered. HOW CRAZY GOOD IS FICTION!?!? I honestly don’t know ho...
  • Lisa
    I love this novel. It held me captive from the moment I read the first page until I finished a few days later. Makkai creates the world of a group of gay men - Yale and his friends - so beautifully and with such tenderness that I was caught off guard. Their community in 1980s Chicago is high stakes and concentrated. Every action, every infidelity, might result in death. I knew this novel couldn't end the way I wanted it to. The end is documented ...
  • Jill
    The carnage of the AIDS epidemic has been often mined by literary writers. Tim Murphy’s Christodora is an excellent example of a haunting novel that captures AIDS devastation and enduring legacy. But Tim Murphy is a white, male New Yorker who reported on HIV/AIDS for 20 years. I wondered: what would Rebecca Makkai, who is a straight Chicagoan and was very young at the height of the epidemic have to add to the wealth of literature already out th...
  • Thomas
    A good read that threads two timelines together: one follows a group of gay male friends affected by the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Chicago, the second centers Fiona, a mother searching for her estranged daughter in 2015. Fiona’s brother, a member of that gay group of friends, died as part of the AIDS epidemic and Fiona has carried the grief of his death and the deaths of his friends all her life. Despite its meandering pace, The Great Believers se...
  • Jennifer Blankfein
    Follow for all reviews and recommendations.Chicago is the third largest city in the US and we rarely associate it with the AIDs epidemic, yet, the city and its people were deeply impacted by the then mysterious and untreatable, deadly disease. Rebecca Makkai set the story, The Great Believers in her beloved hometown and takes us through overwhelmingly emotional times as we witness deep friendships, brotherly ...
  • Pedro
    Arty, compelling, moving and superbly well written, The Great Believers is an astonishing and unforgettable piece of literature. It’s 1985 ( I love everything eighties related) and we meet Yale (my favourite male character since Theo from The Goldfinch), his friends, his partner and co-workers at the art gallery. Some really impressive character development in here, believe me. It’s 2015 and we follow Fiona, one of Yale’s friends from the e...
  • Elyse Walters
    Actress Mary-Louise Parker once said....“I think that no story is more dramatically interesting than to see someone fight a battle that is seemingly unwinnable”. The characters in “The Great Believers” were fighting for their lives.So much much failure....LOSS! So much SADNESS! Friends had perpetrations with each other making it hard to be with ‘the one who was infected with AIDS...while they were ‘the chosen’ with ...
  • Tyler Goodson
    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.
  • Marchpane
    The Great Believers was a mixed bag for me, and I feel I should emphasise upfront that my 3-star rating is not an ‘all-over’ 3, but a result of ‘averaging out’ the excellent bits with the less successful aspects.The main storyline involves Yale Tishman, his boyfriend Charlie, their social circle, various hangers-on, and the wider gay community in Chicago at the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. It’s delicate subject matter but han...
  • David
    "And was friendship that different in the end from love? You took the possibility of sex out of it, and it was all about the moment anyway. Being here, right now, in someone's life. Making room for someone in yours."These words brought me great comfort because reading "The Great Believers" is as close to a real haunting as I hope to come. The ghosts of my own past were very much present throughout the experience. Makkai describes an era with ling...
  • Trudie
    * 3.5 *I normally set to writing my impressions of a book directly after finishing it, unfortunately for The Great Believers I read it partly on holiday and now find myself struggling to get enthusiastic about writing this review. It is just one of those books I was totally engrossed with while reading but a week or so later, it hasn't made the long-lasting impression I thought it might. The Great Believers is as they say "compulsively readable"....
  • Doug
    4.5, rounded up.I've read a lot of criticism that a 40 year old straight woman dares to write a book about the early years of the AIDS crisis, and the author acknowledges that others might claim inappropriate appropriation - but it is clear that not only has she done her homework, but her skill and imagination has covered any glaring gaps from not witnessing it first-hand. Two of the blurbs for the book use the term 'immersive' and it's an apt de...
  • Martie Nees Record
    Genre: General FictionPublisher: Penguin Group VikingPub. Date: June 19, 2018 The Grim Reaper follows all in this novel. Think of Scrooge without a happy ending. The author, Rebecca Makkai, writes about the 1980s AIDS outbreak. The novel is set in the heart of Chicago in an area known as Boystown. There are two storylines, told in alternating chapters: one is in the 1980s and the other is in present time. The book opens in the past. We meet a clo...
  • Kathleen
    “We were the great believers. I have never cared for any men as much as for these who felt the first springs when I did, and saw death ahead, and were reprieved—and who now walk the long stormy summer.” F. Scott FitzgeraldFitzgerald refers to the Lost Generation of post-WWI. Here, in Makkai’s lovingly written historical fiction novel, she pays homage to the ‘lost generation’ of brilliant, young gay men who succumbed to AIDS in Chicago...
  • Collin
    If you are looking for a happy upbeat novel than you should probably look elsewhere. There is very little, if any, happiness found between these covers. It is a dark cynical novel with the presence of the Aids virus hanging over the narrative like an indelible pall. There is a sentence in the book which demonstrates my point elegantly, “It’s always a matter isn’t it, of waiting for the world to come unravelled ? When things hold together, i...