The Great Believers

The Great Believers

Paperback - 2019
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: [New York] : Penguin Books, 2019.
ISBN: 9780735223530
Characteristics: 421 pages ; 21 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Dec 19, 2020

Good! Concise on what to expect from the book - heartache like our
present day pandemic.

Nov 12, 2020

Good read. I wasn't directly touched by the AIDS crisis of the 1980's, but many friends did lose many in their community. The relationships and love shared over the years made for a compelling story.

Nov 09, 2020


Oct 25, 2020

Loved this

Sep 25, 2020

I think this book did a great job of depicting characters and the way they ebb and flow within their friendships with each other. It held my attention and had a decent story. But to be honest, I think the parallel story lines didn't make too much sense. Fiona's story barely intertwined with Yale's--and where it did, it was a weak connection. In my opinion, the book is a little too long--there are parts of Fiona's story that didn't need to be there (SPOILER: Like when she decided to hook up with the journalist on her flight). Overall, it's a decent book--one that tells a story of life from pre-AIDS pandemic to the remnants of a post-AIDS pandemic life.

Jun 17, 2020

This book is often praised for its presentation of how AIDS affects a group of people over a long period. But it’s ultimately an unrealistic portrayal of how individuals change and how that alters, or even ends, group friendships over time. For a superior and more moving effort, try Christodora by Tim Murphy. Murphy shines a harsher light on his flawed characters, but in the end that makes his work far more rewarding.

May 18, 2020

Finished reading on May 18, 2020. Story goes between 1985-86 in Chicago during AIDS epidemic, centers on Yale Tischman and his friends and relationships, and 2015 with main character Fiona, looking for her adult daughter in Paris, estranged for many years. Not the most uplifting book but well written with not too much detail. Many characters, took awhile to keep them all straight. Did not discuss at book club since covid 19 pandemic struck and libraries closed until May 18, 2020.

Jan 27, 2020

Great book

Aug 07, 2019

A beautiful story of a community of friends in 1980's Chicago ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. Yale Tishman is one of the most humane, relatable and realistically flawed characters I have come across lately. I particularly appreciated being able to access this tragic epidemic through this incredibly empathetic work of fiction.

Jun 13, 2019

Very good.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at CPL

To Top