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Rebecca Makkai

Author of Pulitzer Prize-finalist The Great Believers and I Have Some Questions for You

Rebecca Makkai speaks at the Pasadena Festival of Women Authors
  • About Rebecca Makkai

    Rebecca Makkai’s novel, The Great Believers, is a masterful story of love, friendship, and redemption that intertwines the saga of the 1980s Chicago AIDS crisis with that of a mother trying to track down an estranged daughter in modern Paris. Hailed by The New York Times Book Review as “an absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it’s like to live during times of crisis,” The Great Believers has become a critically acclaimed masterpiece. The Great Believers was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. It received the ALA Carnegie Medal, the LA Times Book Prize, and the Stonewall Book Award,  and was named one of the ten best books of the year by the  New York TimesThe Great Believers was optioned by Amy Poehler for a major television event.

    Rebecca Makkai’s newest novel, I Have Some Questions for You, was praised by Jennifer Egan as “Part boarding school drama, part forensic whodunnit, [it] is a true literary thriller—haunting and hard to put down.” Both a transfixing mystery and a deeply felt examination of one woman’s reckoning with her past, I Have Some Questions for You is Makkai’s finest achievement yet.

    In talks and workshops that blend wisdom and humor with time-tested strategy, Makkai welcomes readers and writers into her process. From wrestling with issues of identity and appropriation to overcoming writer’s block and ensuring meticulous research, Makkai shares the techniques that she uses to create her bestselling works.

    Makkai is also the author of Music for Wartime, a collection of stories, and the novels The Hundred-Year House and The Borrower. In addition to the Andrew Carnegie Medal, Makkai is the recipient of the 2017 Pushcart Prize for her short fiction. Her books have been translated into ten languages, and her short fiction has been anthologized in The Pushcart Prize XLIThe Best American Short StoriesThe Best American Nonrequired ReadingNew Stories from the Midwest and Best American Fantasy.

    Her work has also been featured in publications such as Harper’s and Tin House, and on Public Radio International’s Selected Shorts and This American Life. The recipient of a 2014 NEA fellowship, Makkai is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University, and she is the Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago. Rebecca holds an MA from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. She currently lives in Chicago.

    Contact us for more information about how to bring Rebecca Makkai to your next event. 

  • Speaking Topics

    Dark Academia: Where Genre Meets Realism

    Our recent collective obsession with "true crime" isn't new, but podcasts and message boards have enabled amateur sleuths to dive deep into research on criminals, victims, and the justice system as never before. Meanwhile, some readers turn to highly stylized versions of mysteries and thrillers, embracing the "dark academia" trend in fashion, movies, and books. But is it possible to have it both ways—to indulge in the ambiance of the traditional mystery story, while also examining the realities of violence, police investigations, and the carceral system? In writing her new novel, I Have Some Questions for You, Rebecca Makkai used her own experience living at a boarding school as an adult to summon up both the romance and the reality of campus life. At the same time, significant research allowed her to depict both the intrigue and the ugly underbelly of a true crime media circus. Makkai discusses finding a balance between a good story and an honest story—and shares the lessons she learned about genre, suspense, and realism.

    Researching Into the Void: The Great Believers and Approaching History as an Outsider

    Unless every character you write is exactly like you, fiction involves writing across difference. Those differences might be ones of identity and demographics, or they might be ones of knowledge, experience, setting, and historical era. With so much valid concern and debate around the touchy issue of appropriation, writers can find themselves crippled by fears: Do I have permission to write this? What if I get it horribly wrong? Even if I do it well, will people be upset that I wrote outside my own life?

    Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers is a novel that took the author far outside her own lived experience and her own identity, and in this talk she will share not only the essential questions she asked herself as she wrote, but the strategies—of research, of craft, and of publishing—she arrived at by the end. She'll discuss techniques for researching lives unlike our own, for approaching filter readers, and for making sure we’ve approached our characters with the respect they deserve.

    I’m Stuck

    A remarkable number of novel drafts never make it past page 50; many short stories don’t make it past page 3. It’s not that your muse has abandoned you, and it’s not that your idea was a non-starter. You’re probably making some common mistakes that dry a story out too quickly, that leave a writer with nowhere to go. Or perhaps you’re simply daunted by the enormity of the distance between Point A and Point Z. Rebecca Makkai can share concrete techniques for getting out of the rut and back on track, as well as what to do next time so you don’t get stuck in the first place.

    The Blind Date

    Don't let the title scare you: You will not be paired off. Starting with Grace Paley’s assertion that every story is actually two stories, this brainstorming workshop will explore the alchemy of combining seemingly disparate concepts into one narrative. Makkai will teach attendees how to take their own unused, unloved ideas and, after discussing the fine art of narrative matchmaking, set them up together for a lifetime of happiness – or at least a few paragraphs of fun. Further discussion will focus on the ways we find meaning in the space between our main ideas. Writers will leave with the makings of several stories, novels, poems, or personal essays. In addition to something to write with, bring whatever notebook or computer file contains your miscellaneous ideas.

    Historical Research for Fiction Writers

    Time machine broken? No worries. This talk will set you up with all the resources you need for writing about the past. You will learn where and how to access historical details, as well as strategies for elegantly incorporating those details into your fiction. We’ll discuss how to set a period tone without inundating the reader; how to give vital background information without lecturing; how to avoid embarrassing anachronisms; and the thorny issue of using period-appropriate language for narration or dialogue. Whether you’re writing about the 1890s, the 1980s, or 891 BC, you’ll come away with more information at your fingertips than Dean Stockwell on Quantum Leap.

  • Video

  • Praise for Rebecca Makkai


    Sublime: fantastic in working with students, excellent speaker who knows how to keep an audience engaged, delightful one-on-one as well.

    University of Portland, Schoenfeldt Distinguished Writers Series

    We had such a good experience working with [PRHSB] and Rebecca Makkai for the Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar. Rebecca was very well received by our audience and made a fabulous presentation, both in her keynote and her remarks during the concluding panel discussion.  It was great to have Rebecca featured in this annual series, now in its eighteenth year.

    Washington & Lee University

    Praise for I Have Some Questions for You

    Some books are so universal that they feel bizarrely specific: I read I Have Some Questions for You as if it was written just for me, but I can’t imagine who wouldn’t love it. Timely, provocative, nuanced, generous—Rebecca Makkai astonishes once again with the perfect combination of brains and heart.

    Laura Lippmann, author of Dream Girl

    Both a deeply satisfying crime story and a thoughtful, even provocative, novel of ideas, I Have Some Questions for You narrates one woman’s interrogation of her own past while in turn posing difficult questions directly to its reader: about sex, power, privilege, and the ambient violence of contemporary American life. What a feat.

    Rumaan Alam, New York Times bestselling author of Leave the World Behind

    Praise for The Great Believers

    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

    Cultural revolutions of the past painfully reverberate in Rebecca Makkai’s deft third novel, The Great Believers, which captures both the devastation of the AIDS crisis in 1980s Chicago and the emotional aftershocks of those losses.


    A striking, emotional journey… 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.

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    Tearjerker… The Great Believers asks big questions about redemption, tragedy, and connection. Makkai has written her most ambitious novel yet.

    Entertainment Weekly

    The Great Believers soars…magnificent…Makkai has full command of her multi-generational perspective, and by its end, The Great Believers offers a grand fusion of the past and the present, the public and the personal. It’s remarkably alive despite all the loss it encompasses.

    Chicago Tribune

    Beautiful, tender, harrowing… [The Great Believers] is a vivid, passionate, heart-wrenching story.

    Wall Street Journal

    Compulsively readable…a relentless engine mowing back and forth across decades, zooming in on subtlest physical and emotional nuances of dozens of characters, missing no chance to remind us what’s at stake.

    San Francisco Chronicle

    At turns heartbreaking and hopeful, the novel brings the first years of the AIDS epidemic into very immediate view, in a manner that will seem nostalgic to some and revelatory to others…Makkai’s sweeping fourth novel shows the compassion of chosen families and the tension and distance that can exist in our birth ones.

    Library Journal

    Sure to become a classic Chicago novel…a deft, harrowing novel that’s as beautiful as its cover.

    Chicago Review of Books

    The latest novel from the stunningly versatile Makkai…Focused on a group of friends, lovers, and family outcasts, the book highlights the way tragic illness shifts the courses of people’s lives—and how its touch forever lingers on those left behind.

    Harper’s Bazaar

    A devastating contemplation of love and loss…evokes the epidemic’s horrors, yes, but also the profound acts of generosity it sparked., “O’s Top Books of Summer”

    Deeply moving…Makkai does an excellent job of capturing the jaded, ironic and affectionately jibing small talk of a group of cultured gay friends in the Reagan era…[Captures] a group of friends in a particular time and place with humor and compassion. Conversations among her gay male characters feel very real — not too flamboyant, not too serious, always morbidly witty. It’s hard not to get drawn into this circle of promising young men as they face their brutally premature extinction.


    Two distinct narratives intertwine ingeniously…The stories meet up to heartbreaking effect.

    New York Magazine

    A poignant, historical journey through a virus’s outbreak and legacy.

    Conde Nast Traveler

    This book will be compared to similar mammoth works of fiction, but Makkai differs in that she seems to care about her characters and her readers… each character – main or secondary – is fully developed, and it is hard not to care for them. The pain and prejudice they suffer becomes personal as their lives are carefully told… A forceful work of fiction that will captivate readers.

    Baltimore Outloud

    Rebecca Makkai’s beautiful (literally—look at that cover!) novel takes us to an art gallery in Chicago at the height of the AIDS crisis. From Chicago to Paris, THE GREAT BELIEVERS is a sweeping story of multi-generational trauma and the solitude that the AIDS epidemic created, as an entire generation was decimated by the virus.

    Fodor’s Travel

    Powerfully emotional.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    Makkai is very good at conjuring a gay community enacting the usual dramas of love and lust and ambition and jealousy in a world where all the usual dramas suddenly can carry a fatal charge.

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

    With its broad time span and bedrock of ferocious, loving friendships, [The Great Believers] might remind readers of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life…though it is, overall, far brighter than that novel. 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.

    Booklist (starred review)

    Layered, satisfying… Makkai’s novel about resilience and hope is sure to win readers over.

    Publishers Weekly, “Summer Reads 2018, Fiction”

    To believe in something is to have faith, and Makkai dispenses it fiercely, in defiance of understandable nihilism and despair—faith in what’s right, in the good in others, in better outcomes, in time’s ability not to heal but to make something new.

    National Book Review

    Another ambitious change of pace for the versatile and accomplished [Rebecca] Makkai… 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.

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    Stirring, spellbinding and full of life.

    Téa Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife

    This expansive, huge-hearted novel conveys the scale of the trauma that was the early AIDS crisis, and conveys, too, the scale of the anger and love that rose up to meet it. Rebecca Makkai shows us characters who are devastated but not defeated, who remain devoted, in the face of death, to friendship and desire and joyful, irrepressible life. I loved this book.

    Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

    Makkai has created a moving story about Chicago and Paris, the past and present, the young men lost to AIDS and the ones who survived. And just as her novel evokes art’s power to commemorate the departed, The Great Believers is itself a poignant work of memory.

    Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Sympathizer

    The Great Believers is by turns funny, harrowing, tender, devastating, and always hugely suspenseful.  It reminds us, poignantly, of how many people, mostly young, often brilliant, were lost to the AIDS epidemic, and of how those who survived were marked by that struggle.  This is Rebecca Makkai at the height of her powers.

    Margot Livesey, New York Times bestselling author of Mercury

    In the remarkable The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai conjures up a time as startling as a dream and, in its extremity, achingly familiar to us now, close enough to hold. A tender, sly, immersive, irreverent, life force of a book.

    Paul Lisicky, author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship

    The Great Believers kept me up reading late into the night, and I’d wake up thinking about Makkai’s vibrant, complex, and deeply human characters. This is an immersive, heartbreaking novel—I loved it.

    Maggie Shipstead, author ofAstonish Me

    Rebecca Makkai’s novel The Great Believers has stolen my heart. Crossing decades and lives, love and loss, art, and the long lasting legacy of AIDS, the novel is a brilliant triumph of empathy and intimacy between friends.

    Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Small Backs of Children

    Time is a healer and a heartbreaker in Makkai’s brilliant and beautiful novel. The Great Believers kept me hoping and guessing, heart in hand, until the very last page.

    Carol Rifka Brunt, author of Tell the Wolves I’m Home

    The Great Believers is a sprawling, wildly ambitious novel. Rebecca Makkai brings to life a large cast of characters, and weaves together the threads of her storyline with the ease and authority of a skilled magician. But in the end, what makes this novel such a rousing success is the emotional truthfulness of her characters and the way she captures the panic and rage of the period. I came to feel I knew these people, and was moved by the dilemmas and difficult choices they had to face.

    Stephen McCauley, author of My Ex-Life

    The Great Believers is a magnificent novel—well imagined, intricately plotted, and deeply felt, both humane and human. It unfurls like a peony: you keep thinking it can’t get any more perfect, and it does. A stunning feat.

    Rabih Alameddine, author of The Angel of History and Koolaids: The Art of War

    Praise for Music for Wartime

    If any short story writer can be considered a rock star of the genre, it’s Rebecca Makkai…. Her greatest strength may be never forgetting that she is a storyteller first.

    Kansas City Star

    Nearly perfect . . . [Makkai] has penned a collection filled with beauty and heartbreak, surprise and wonder, guilt and innocence. . . . The stories complement one another perfectly, linked not by characters or plot, but by theme and craft. . . . An exceptional book.

    The Gazette (Iowa City)

    Music for Wartime shows off Rebecca Makkai’s surprising range of short-story writing: Stories of war and destruction appear next to those about love and reality television. Yet the collection still manages to feel like a cohesive, stunning whole, tied together with the wit and heart that courses through each and every story.

    Buzzfeed, “17 Awesome New Books You Need To Read This Summer”

    Makkai proved in her most recent novel, The Hundred-Year House, that she’s capable of crafting alluring, interwoven character studies. In Music for Wartime, she’s penned a series of short stories—three of which are based on legends from Hungary, where her family hails from. Spanning Berlin, Romania and present-day America, where true love can be found in front of a live audience, her short stories are as moving as they are varied.

    The Huffington Post, “18 Brilliant Books You Won’t Want To Miss This Summer”

    Haunting . . . Seventeen stories with the impact of a quiver of arrows aimed at the heart., “Ten Books to Read in July”

    Stories that stay with you, all of which are good, and some of which are magnificent….The writing is clever and rich with the perceptiveness and human insight that earned Makkai a place (or four) in the Best American Short Stories series.

    Los Angeles Magazine, “7 Books You Need to Read This July”

    Makkai’s first short story collection demonstrates why the already-acclaimed novelist is also a master of this more succinct form. Each of the stories in the collection is vividly wrought and individually compelling, and features a precision and beauty that leaves the reader full of wonder.

    The L Magazine, “50 Books You’ll Want to Read This Spring and Summer"

    After two celebrated novels . . . Makkai returns to the genre that first got her noticed. The stories’ settings vary . . . [with the] author’s sharp, compassionate writing uniting them all.

    Chicago Magazine“Grab These 10 Great Summer Reads"

    Sets the author’s pure talent front and center.

    Chicago Reader, “28 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2015"

    Showcases the author’s talent for the short form.

    The Millions, “Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2015 Book Preview”

    Rife with sentences that will stop you in your tracks with their strangeness and profundity….Makkai is a musical writer with a strong voice.

    Library Journal, (Starred Review)

    [An] outstanding debut story collection . . . Though these stories alternate in time between WWII and the present day, they all are set . . . within ‘the borders of the human heart’—a terrain that their author maps uncommonly well.

    Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

    A collection of 17 nuanced short stories which examine conflicts internal and external involving the touchstones of family, artistry, and identity. . . . Makkai’s tales offer rich explorations of the key questions and struggles that are part and parcel of the human experience.


    Funny, haunting short stories . . . More than worth picking up.

    Shelf Awareness

    Rebecca Makkai is one of our best writers—witty and precise, brilliant and compassionate—and every one of these stories contains all the depth and heartache of a doorstop-sized novel. I’ve been waiting for years for this book. Music for Wartime isn’t simply wonderful—it’s essential.

    Molly Antopol, author of The Un-Americans, longlisted for the National Book Award

    I have been waiting for this collection since 2008, when I read “The Worst You Ever Feel” and it basically took the top of my head off. Deeply intelligent, stylistically playful, full of razor wit and grave historical accounting, what is most enthralling about these stories is their insistence that the political and the personal are never separate categories, that art’s attempt to make sense of the senseless is at least as noble as it is doomed, and that atrocities large and small begin, as love does, in the human heart.

    Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

    It’s not often you read a story collection with the range and depth of Rebecca Makkai’s Music for Wartime. The stories are about war and guilt and secrets, but also about romance and art and reality TV, and they come together, as the best collections do, as an assured and satisfying whole. It’s a wonderful book, haunting, funny, and wise.

    Maile Meloy, author of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

    Rebecca Makkai’s Music for Wartime is a collection of the first order. The stories diverge and coalesce, practically in conversation with one another, always hewing to the varied consolations of beauty in the midst of conflict. To read one is to crave the next, each story feeding a pang you didn’t quite know you had. Music for Wartime isn’t a song, it’s a sublime double-LP.

    Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek

    Praise for The Hundred-Year House

    [A] gleeful tale of ghosts, vengeance and family secrets…The darkly funny Makkai seeds the narrative with so many mysteries and surprises…that those 100 years race by.

    People“The Best New Books”

    A big-hearted gothic novel, an intergenerational mystery, a story of heartbreak and a romance, all crammed into one grand Midwestern estate….A juicy and moving story of art and love and the luck it takes for either to last.

    Los Angeles Times

    An entertaining, ambitious saga ….Makkai’s lyrical prose quietly lifts off the page while her carefully crafted plot charges forward.

    The Boston Globe

    Ingenious…sharp and ambitious….[brimming] with humor and a fondness for hijinks…..Both clever and heartfelt, this is a book with something for pretty much everyone….You will smile, guaranteed.

    Cleveland Plain-Dealer

    A witty mystery set at a countryside estate….Makkai’s humorous, expertly orchestrated storytelling will surprise you., “6 Dazzling New Beach Reads”

    Makkai has written a novel that reads almost like early Muriel Spark — clever, competent, and concealing an unsettling and skewed reality….The hand that keeps giving the kaleidoscope another turn, controlling just how the pieces land, isn’t fate, of course. It’s the artist. Makkai is one.

    Chicago Tribune

    As restless, and as sly, as the mythical Proteus, [Makkai] nimbly remakes her novel at every turn….It takes a special trick to remake the world without a reader noticing; it takes a tremendous talent to do it again and again.

    Compelling….clever….full of unexpected storytelling and wry humor….The delight is in the details, so don’t plan to consume this one between naps. Instead, tuck your reading glasses into your carry-on and devour it on the plane. Revelations, increasingly delicious and devastating, come faster and more furiously as the text progresses, and you’ll want sharp focus so you don’t miss them.

    Denver Post

    A sly, funny, literary mystery, a meet-cute romantic comedy, and a metafictional meditation on fate rolled up into one.

    The Austin Chronicle

    Clever and acrobatic….Makkai is a juggler, handling the many plots, characters and ideas with ease and humor and, at times, pathos.

    San Francisco Chronicle

    A page-turner of a novel with whip-smart dialogue.

    Minneapolis Star-Tribune

    Makkai’s screwball intrigue [is] fresh and fun.

    Good HousekeepingSummer 2014 Reading List

    A clever and utterly delightful work of fiction…infused with a respect for literature and literary culture, as well as a wry sense of humor…[and] starring a house with as much personality as Manderley or Hill House.


    An imaginative and lively epic.


    Makkai humorously turns the conventional family saga on its head, in a clever exploration of metamorphosis and secrecy.

    Huffington PostThe Book We’re Talking About

    Hilarious and heartbreaking….utterly absorbing….Makkai creates eccentric characters the reader can’t give up on [and her] witty and engrossing writing style belies the nearly Dickensian way she layers characters over time, revealing hidden identities and unknown connections…. Deceptively light and fast-paced, the story will stay with the reader long after the satisfying conclusion.

    San Antonio Current

    The pleasures of Makkai’s novel are contagious….[The Hundred-Year House] manages the rare feat of crafting a smart comedy with a satisfyingly fierce pace — this book is a true page-turner — while indulging in an unusual structure….Here, we find a writer with an innately intelligent and assured comedic voice, someone who obviously has a deep literary pedigree but appears more interested in having fun on the page and puzzling out the complexities of a tightly woven plot.

    Toronto Star

    Deliciously entertaining….Rare indeed is the novel that combines beautiful prose with ideas as robust as those on display in The Hundred-Year House—not to mention a story like a set of Penrose stairs, connected in the most playful, the most surprising of ways….A wonderful novel, as beautifully written as it is painstakingly plotted, with the structure to please any literary critic, and a story absorbing enough to satisfy the most ravenous reader.

    Winnipeg Free-Press

    A puzzle-box of a story that moves backward in time….Makkai invites the reader, more than any character, to play detective. Flipping back to earlier sections to spot…clues hidden in plain sight is one of the book’s distinct pleasures. Makkai [is] a mainstay of contemporary literary fiction.

    The Kansas City Star

    A funny, engaging, time-traveling love story.

    Tampa Bay Times

    The Hundred-Year House is a puzzle, a plunge into a world of fascinating characters, and an examination of human relationships. It is not to be missed.


    This novel is stunning: ambitious, readable, and intriguing. Its gothic elements, complexity, and plot twists are reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. Chilling and thoroughly enjoyable…A daring takeoff from her entertaining debut.

    Library Journal (starred)

    Charmingly clever and mischievously funny…A dazzling plot spiked with secrets…[Makkai] stealthily investigates the complexities of ambition, sexism, violence, creativity, and love in this diverting yet richly dimensional novel.

    Booklist (starred)

    A lively and clever story…exceptionally well-constructed, with engaging characters busy reinventing themselves throughout, and delightful twists that surprise and satisfy.

    Publishers Weekly (starred)

    Suspenseful [and] amusing….Makkai’s novel will keep readers on edge until the last piece of the puzzle drops into place and the whole brilliant picture can be seen at once, sharp and clear.

    Shelf Awareness (starred)

    Rebecca Makkai is the most refreshing kind of writer there is: both genius and generous. Every masterfully crafted connection, every lovingly nestled detail, is a gift to the attentive reader. Playful, poignant, and richly rewarding, The Hundred-Year House is the most absorbing book I’ve read in ages. Before you’ve finished, you’ll want to read it again.

    Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints

    A mesmerizing story of self-reinvention that delights on every page, told with keen wit and a perceptive eye. Like the unforgettable characters in this gripping novel, Laurelfield will draw you into its spell.

    Charlie Lovett, author of The Bookman’s Tale

    The Hundred-Year House is a funny, sad and delightful romp  through the beginning, middle and end of an artists’ colony as well as the  family mansion that sheltered it and the family members who do and don’t survive  it. Told backwards from the viewpoints of an array of eccentric and intertwined characters, the story’s secrets are revealed with stunning acuity. An ambitious work, well-realized.

    B. A. Shapiro, author of The Art Forger

    Makkai fulfills the promise of her debut with this witty and darkly acerbic novel set in the rich soils of an artists’ colony. The inverted timeline of the multi-generational narrative deepens the layered mysteries at its heart. As decades unfold in reverse, we find that nothing about Laurelfield’s various inhabitants is at it first appears, and neither talent nor history sits on solid ground.

    Ru Freeman, author of On Sal Mal Lane

    Praise for The Borrower

    Rarely is a first novel as smart and engaging and learned and funny and moving as The Borrower. Rebecca Makkai is a writer to watch, as sneakily ambitious as she is unpretentious.

    Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize winning author of That Old Cape Magic and Empire F

    An appealing, nonromantic love story about an unexpected pairing—and a surprisingly moving one.

    The New York Times

    This comical and touching book strikes a nice balance between literary artistry and gripping storytelling, and offers a contemporary take on the classic “journey of discovery.”…Right up to the book’s satisfying and well-plotted ending, Makkai shows us that even though the stories we are told as children are often fount to betray us as mere fantasy, there might still be some wisdom in the one of their most common and simple morals: Be true to yourself.

    The Daily Beast, Selected as one of “3 Must Read Novels”

    Rebecca Makkai’s The Borrower is full of books, libraries, cross-country hijinks, accidental parenting, love gone wrong and friendships gone right. Makkai will have you cheering for her librarian heroine, who has all the history and darkness of a Russian novel in her veins, mixed with the humor and spirit of Bridget Jones. A fun, moving, and delightful read.

    Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

    In the hilariously off-kilter world Makkai creates, it makes perfect sense that 26-year-old children’s librarian Lucy Hull and her favorite reading-obsessed patron, 10-year-old Ian Drake, should ‘kidnap’ each other and take a loopy road trip. Clever riffs on classic kid lit pepper the sparkling prose, making this first novel a captivating read.

    Parade Magazine

    How could any reader of any age resist Rebecca Makkai’s charming The Borrower, a novel that tracks the relationship between a 20-something librarian and a 10-year-old boy with punitive parents. Part caper (the two take off on a road trip that has moments of danger but never turns dark), part coming-of-age (and not just for the kid!) story, it manages, with good humor and wry self-knowledge, to read our minds.

    O, Oprah Magazine

    A lively, lovely read that delicately weaves together social activism, literary culture and the quintessential road trip motif into a single solid adventure tale…Reading The Borrower is like taking a blissfully nostalgic journey into the bookshelves of American childhood.

    A wise and likable tale about the difficulty of protecting a precocious imagination.

    The Wall Street Journal

    Poignant…every conflicted word Lucy utters in Makkai’s probing novel reminds us that literature matters because it helps us discover ourselves while exploring the worlds of others.

    The Chicago Tribune
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