The Great Believers
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 1920’s 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.
About the Author
Rebecca Makkai teaches Creative Writing in Sierra Nevada College and North-western University. The Great Believers was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and received the ALA Carnegie Medal and the LA Times Book Prize
The powerful message of this novel is that there is no escape from history: the trauma lingers in those who survive, forcing them to become both witness to and bearer of the memories of the loved and lost, and sends its shock waves through succeeding generations. Set primarily at the height of the AIDS crisis in late 1980’s Chicago but spiralling backwards to the Paris of the Lost Generation and forward thirty years to the Paris of the Bataclan Nightclub attack. The Great Believers is a wrenching examination not just of love but of the catastrophic and lasting legacy of its loss. Toronto Public Library, Canada