The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
F R I D A Y F A V O U R I T E
I’m assuming you’re here because you like reading so I do hope you don’t mind if we touch on TV for a brief moment. A few weeks ago I watched (read: binged) It’s a Sin and I can honestly say, no TV show has moved me the way it did — and I am not sure anything ever will again.
As I was watching, I couldn’t stop thinking about Rebecca Makkai’s book, The Great Believers, which I read around 18 months ago. Set in the Chicago of the 80s and Paris in 2015, this book, like It’s a Sin, completely rocked me to the core. Opening with a memorial — though it’s more of a party, really — for the popular and charismatic Nico, we are quickly introduced to a group of young men who you will come to know as intimately as your nearest and dearest; Terrence, Yale, Charlie, Richard, Julian, Teddy. Friends, lovers — the fate of so many sealed by a virus that is engulfed by shame and stigma.
And then there’s Nico’s sister, Fiona, whose search for her daughter takes her to France in the present day. Her life, too, is in so many ways a casualty of AIDS, for she looks after them all (not unlike the incredible Jill of It’s a Sin).
I cannot stress how much this book moved me and how important it is. You will never forget these men, you will want to be there for Yale, you will feel the impact of a pandemic that terrifyingly struck people down in the most brutal and shattering of ways. It is without question both a hard read and a consuming read but ultimately, it is a masterpiece which conveys that, through it all, there is still hope. If you loved It’s a Sin, I implore you to give it a go.