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Penguin: Adult Hardcover & Trade Paperback Summer 2019

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The Great Believers
A Novel
By (author): Rebecca Makkai
9780735223530 Paperback, Trade English General Trade FICTION / Literary Jun 04, 2019
$22.00 CAD
Active 5.4 x 8.27 x 0.9 in 448 pages Penguin Books
A finalist for the 2018 National Book Award, The Great Believers is a dazzling 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. In The Great Believers, 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.

Story Locale: Chicago and Paris

INCREDIBLE HARDCOVER RECEPTION: The Great Believers has been postively and widely reviewed across major media outlets including The New York Times Book Review in a front page review by Michael Cunningham, People, Entertainment Weekly, and the Chicago Tribune, among others. She was shortlisted for the National Book Award, and won the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and the Stonewall Book Award. The Great Believers was on a number of best of the year lists, including The New York Times Selection for Best 10 Books of the Year.

CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED AUTHOR: Rebecca Makkai’s debut novel, The Borrower, received glowing reviews. It was named an IndieNext pick, an O Magazine Summer Reading selection, and a Booklist Top Ten Debut. Her second novel, The Hundred-Year House received major review attention. It was chosen by People magazine as one of its “Best New Books,” by as one of “6 Dazzling New Beach Reads,” and by the Huffington Post as “The Book We’re Talking About.” Her short story collection, Music for Wartime, was named a “Must-Read” by O Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Buzzfeed, and more.

SOON TO BE A MAJOR TELEVISION EVENT: The Great Believers has been optioned by Amy Poehler.

HUGELY PROMOTABLE HOUSE AUTHOR: She’s beloved by readers, booksellers, critics, and everyone in-house who’s had a chance to meet her. This is Rebecca’s third novel, and gives us our best opportunity yet to break her out as a star house author.

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.

Author Residence: Chicago, IL

Marketing: Online advertising

Social media and online promotion

Library promotions / Twitter

Publicity: National Author Tour

New in paperback media attention

Author Website:

Author Social Media:; Twitter: @RebeccaMakkai

Praise for The Great Believers:

“Stirring, spellbinding and full of life.”—Téa Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife

“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.”—Michael Cunningham, The New York Times Book Review

“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

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