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The Great Believers  By  cover art

The Great Believers

By: Rebecca Makkai
Narrated by: Michael Crouch
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Publisher's summary

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

A New York Times TOP 10 BOOK OF 2018

LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE WINNER

ALA CARNEGIE MEDAL WINNER

THE STONEWALL BOOK AWARD WINNER

Soon to Be a Major Television Event, optioned by Amy Poehler

“A page turner.... An absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it’s like to live during times of crisis.” (The New York Times Book Review)

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 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.

Named a Best Book of 2018 by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, The Seattle Times, Bustle, Newsday, AM New York, BookPage, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lit Hub, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, New York Public Library, and Chicago Public Library.

©2018 Rebecca Makkai (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

“Makkai knits themes of loss, betrayal, friendship and survival into a powerful story of people struggling to keep their humanity in dire circumstances.” (People Magazine)

“Cultural revolutions of the past painfully reverberate in Rebecca Makkai’s deft third novel, The Great Believers, which captures both the devastation of the AIDS crisis in 1980s Chicago and the emotional aftershocks of those losses.” (Vogue)

"Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers is a page turner... among the first novels to chronicle the AIDS epidemic from its initial outbreak to the present - among the first to convey the terrors and tragedies of the epidemic’s early years as well as its course and repercussions...An absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it’s like to live during times of crisis." (The New York Times Book Review)

Featured Article: Moving Listens About the AIDS Epidemic


The AIDS crisis is a devastating part of history that should never be forgotten. The epidemic led to the death of more than 25 million Americans and contributed to the health struggles of countless others. The audiobooks on this list confront the harsh, heartbreaking realities of the AIDS epidemic. Each of these listens helps commemorate a dark part of our nation’s history and honor those who lost their lives to the bigotry that built barriers to treatment and care.