The Great Believers has been shortlisted for the National Book Award, and for the ALA’s Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. I’m utterly thrilled for both, and nervous and overwhelmed and grateful. The NBA award will be announced on Wednesday, November 14th, and you can live stream the ceremony from the National Book Foundation FB page or website, starting at 7:20 ET. First winners will be announced around 8:15 ET. The Carnegie medal winner will be announced in January!
The Great Believers has received starred reviews in…
Publishers Weekly: “A striking, emotional journey through the 1980s AIDS crisis and its residual effects on the contemporary lives of survivors… Makkai creates a powerful, unforgettable meditation, not on death, but rather on the power and gift of life. This novel will undoubtedly touch the hearts and minds of readers.”
Booklist: “As her intimately portrayed characters wrestle with painful pasts and fight to love one another and find joy in the present in spite of what is to come, Makkai carefully reconstructs 1980s Chicago, WWI-era and present-day Paris, and scenes of the early days of the AIDS epidemic. A tribute to the enduring forces of love and art, over everything.”
Kirkus: “Another ambitious change of pace for the versatile and accomplished Makkai (The Hundred-Year House, 2014, etc.), whose characters wrangle with the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic at its height and in its aftermath… Her rich portraits of an array of big personalities and her affecting depiction of random, horrific death faced with varying degrees of gallantry make this tender, keening novel an impressive act of imaginative empathy. As compulsively readable as it is thoughtful and moving: an unbeatable fictional combination.”
I teach in the low-residency MFA program at Sierra Nevada College (on Lae Tahoe! it’s beautiful!); I teach in Northwestern University’s MFA program (the one in the School of Professional Studies — there are two programs, it’s super confusing); and I teach StoryStudio Chicago’s “Novel in a Year” workshop. Applications for the latter are typically open early each summer.
I also love talking about craft with library groups and other groups of writers. These and other visits can be arranged by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Music for Wartime was selected as a finalist in the fiction category for the Society of Midland Authors award. The SMA mercifully announces the winner ahead of time rather than making us find out at the ceremony, and this year’s prize is going to a very deserving Joe Meno for Marvel and a Wonder; the other finalist was Bonnie Jo Campell’s Mothers, Tell Your Daughters (a collection I can’t recommend highly enough). The banquet is May 10th; tickets and more info here.
BookPage has kindly named Music for Wartime one of the top ten short story collections of 2015, writing “Makkai’ s novels… have established her as one of the most talented literary voices today… Now the acclaimed writer returns with Music for Wartime, an anticipated collection of short stories, several of which were inspired by the lives of her paternal grandparents.” Read the full list here!
The Hundred-Year House has been chosen as the Ragdale Reads Lake Forest book for fall, 2015. The citywide reading program includes several public events, including a tea at the legendary Ragdale artists’ colony (10:30 am, Thursday, October 15) and a reading and conversation (6 pm, Wednesday, October 21st, Lily Holt Reid Memorial Chapel, Lake Forest College). More details to come; information here.