In Conversation with Tayla Burney
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 Makkai.
In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in 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, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon 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 crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.
“Stirring, spellbinding and full of life.”—Téa Obreht, New York Timesbestselling 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 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
“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
Rebecca Makkai is the author of The Hundred Year-House, The Borrower, and Music for Wartime. 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.
Tayla Burney is a freelance journalist and writer who worked for years as a public radio producer. An avid reader and passionate literacy advocate, she writes a weekly newsletter called Get Lit, D.C. that highlights literary events in the region. She tweets entirely too much @taylakaye
Rebecca Makkai is generously donating to Vital Bridges through social media posting with her book. Please see her website for more information. In the same spirit, Solid State Books is donating $1 for every book we sell to Washington AIDS Partnership, an organization working to end the HIV epidemic in our region.
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