The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers

A dazzling new novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris, by the acclaimed and award-winning author Rebecca MakkaiIn 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 epidem...

Details The Great Believers

TitleThe Great Believers
Release DateJun 19th, 2018
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Lgbt

Reviews The Great Believers

  • Rebecca Makkai
    Only giving this five stars because I'm married to the author's husband.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • Lydia
    I LOVE this book. It's heartbreaking and propulsive - I could not put it down, and was turning pages so fast it felt like I was reading a thriller. I loved all the characters, and thought the author did a wonderful job of the time change (going back in time then current day).
  • 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...
  • Mainlinebooker
    Makkai creates a very personal tour of the AIDS crisis in the 80's in Chicago alternating with chapters occurring in Paris in 2015. Many books have been written about the dreadful trajectories for many AIDS patients at the beginning of this crossroad but few have had the skilled dialogue that takes one inside the minds and hearts of everyday life as individuals confront a disease that no one knew much about. It felt so intimate that I was sure Ma...
  • Mike
    In 1985, AIDS, an epidemic that is rarely mentioned outside of the gay community, tears Yale and his friends’ lives apart. Thirty years later, Fiona, his closest friend, continues to struggle with the memories of that year.An impassioned novel that intertwines the lives of several remarkable characters to tell a story about the power of love even in the face of despair.
  • Cheryl DeFranceschi
    This may well end up being my favorite book this year. Gorgeous and generous and filled to the brim with a story that my heart just leapt into. Sigh.
  • Jamie
    I loved this book. That out of the way: no, I really LOVED this book. It's so sad but so beautiful. It's about found families that can tie people together and be more important than blood relations. It's a portrait of my city before my time, a portrait of a generation in pain and sickness, but it's still got so much life and urgency. Sometimes I get to the last line of a good book and tears spring to my eyes, and this one made me want to sob.
  • 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...
  • Sara Leonard
    How do we keep the stories of our loved ones alive, when we're the only ones around to share them? This is the question posed by Makkai's breathtaking novel, alternating between the AIDS crisis in 1985 Chicago and Paris in 2015. The novel focuses on Yale, a young man devastated by the loss of countless friends while living in fear of his own future, and Fiona, a middle-aged woman still trying to figure out how to live with her own daughter after ...
  • Janet
    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.
  • Brynn Devereaux
    Absolutely fantastic. This is a big book with a lot to unpack, but the author does a great job slowly introducing you to everyone, letting you fall in love with the characters, and then breaking your heart. I read almost all of it in one sitting. It's a difficult book to review without giving away spoilers, but it focuses on a group of men during the 1980s AIDS epidemic. It sounds like it should be all tears and sadness, but it is a beautiful nov...
  • Robin Black
    I was lucky enough to see a pre-publication edition of this book. It's an absolute home run -with Makkai's characteristic insight and transporting prose. And of course this is a subject that is due for just this kind of in depth, compassionate treatment. I highly recommend.
  • Jeremy Owens
    This book is a gift.
  • Mary Chuirazzi
    This book, and Yale in particular, will stay with me for a long long time. Fabulous.
  • Rachel León
    Damn, what a book.
  • Adam Morgan
    Destined to become a classic Chicago novel that's read and taught for decades.
  • Danny Caine
    A moving novel tracing the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Chicago, Rebecca Makkai's The Great Believers is wonderful. Dual protagonists Fiona and Yale come of age in the same friend group in what would eventually become Boystown. Everything is rosy until Fiona's brother Nico dies, and then the dominoes quickly start falling. The novel is at its best tracing the disease's effects on this memorable bunch, but it also has poignant explorations of career, ar...
  • Annie
    The protagonists of Rebecca Makkai’s terrifyingly sad novel, The Great Believers, Fiona and Yale, are trapped by love and obligation. In 1985, Yale is living through the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Chicago. His friends and dying all around him while he and his lover worry about catching the virus. In 2015, Fiona is tracking down her estranged daughter, who disappeared after leaving a cult. Both of them desperately want to love someone who can’t love...
  • Christi
    I don't say this about many books I read, but this one is *important*. Makkai masterfully takes us back to the tragedy of the AIDS crisis in Chicago in the late 80's, a time I remember vividly: all the misinformation, the fear, the hope and despair, the growing awareness of AIDS and the government's limp response to the pandemic, as well as the gay pride movement and activism. Makkai is a master storyteller, and the book is as entertaining as it ...
  • Allison Reilly
    I absolutely loved this book. One story-line is set in 1980's Chicago, centering around a group of gay men dealing with the AIDS crisis as well as their own personal lives, relationships, and challenges. The book opens with one of our narrators, Yale, attending the memorial service for his friend Nico who has just died of AIDS. Nico's sister Fiona is the other narrator, whose story-line takes place in Paris in 2015. The characters felt complex an...
  • Taylor Noel
    Absolutely stunning and emotionally devastating in the best way. I haven’t loved characters in a nov this much since I read Hanya Yanagihara’s A LITTLE LIFE. A powerful, smart, compassionate story of grief, trauma, friendship, love, mortality, and redemption set against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic in Chicago. One of the best books I’ve read.
  • Kate
    This is a beautiful, beautiful book. It took me about three weeks to read partly because I wanted to ration it, and party because it's very, very sad. It alternates between Chicago in the 1980s, following a gay man as he and his friends navigate the AIDS crisis, and Paris in 2015, following the sister of the man whose funeral begins the book as she attempts to reconcile with her estranged daughter. Both stories are heartbreaking, but I found thin...
  • Rachel Watkins
    I want to call THE GREAT BELIEVERS historical fiction, because Makkai's inclusion 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!
  • Jillian Doherty
    An epic story over the course of two decades.One story of a mother and daughter, brilliantly linked with friends and lovers, as heart wrenching as it is gripping and historically compelling; you have to see what happens to them all.From Paris to Chicago, you can walk the streets and visualize neighborhoods, hospitals, apartments and local haunts to bring you full circle in the end.With growing esteem, and so much local love - Makkai wows us again...
  • Virginia
    *review to come*