The Great Believers

After her beloved brother Nico dies of AIDS in 1985, Fiona Marcus copes with her grief by becoming closer to his many friends in Chicago. Shell-shocked by the rapid progression of a new and mysterious virus that changes vibrant, young gay men into ghosts, the friends live in fear of their future while remembering those they loved in the past.  

Fast-forward 30 years. By 2015, Fiona is divorced and managing a nonprofit store that benefits AIDS charities. Her estranged daughter, Claire, has gone missing but is believed to be living in Paris. Fiona flies to the City of Love and stays with an old friend from Chicago--someone who survived and documented the AIDS epidemic alongside her, complete with photographs and videos that are part of a new exhibit.

An astonishing layered and emotionally stirring novel, The Great Believers returns readers to a time when love meant fear, risk and death. With a narrative that seamlessly segues and connects time and decades, Rebecca Makkai (Music for Wartime) brilliantly captures a devastating era marked by political inaction and shock. Decades after society's collective memories of the epidemic have faded, Makkai's abundantly alive characters beg us to remember again. --Melissa Firman, writer, editor and blogger at

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