March: “The Great Believers” by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Our March 2019 Book of the Month

Many of the books we select as our Book of the Month are picked just as they are published, so we can curate for our readers from all the new releases, and so that our book clubs can be the first to read great novels and literary non-fiction. However, sometimes a book has been out for awhile and is about to be released in paperback and although we loved it enough to have it in our Books in the Bag it somehow missed being a Book of the Month selection amongst the many releases.

Our book this month — The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai — is just such a book. It has been a favorite among the facilitators and book clubs reading and discussing it for awhile now as well as being shortlisted for The National Book Award and Winning the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction recently. Sometimes we pick a book and sometimes a book picks us. The beauty of this novel shines through and we are proud to select it as our March Book of the Month.


A dazzling new novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris…

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.

The Great Believers has become a critically acclaimed, indelible piece of literature; it was selected as one
of New York Times Best 10 Books of the Year, a Washington Post Notable Book, a Buzzfeed Book of the Year,
a Skimm Reads pick, and a pick for the New York Public Library’s Best Books of the year.



Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the story collection MUSIC FOR WARTIME (2015) as well as the novels THE HUNDRED-YEAR HOUSE (2014) and THE BORROWER (2011). Her work was chosen for The Best American Short Stories in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and appears regularly in publications such as Harper’s, Tin House, Ploughshares, New England Review and Ecotone, and on public radio’s This American Life and Selected Shorts. The recipient of a 2014 NEA Fellowship, Rebecca has taught year at Northwestern University, the Tin House Writers’ Conference, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

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