Monday, May 28, 2018

Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai's new novel is The Great Believers.

From her Newcity Lit interview with Toni Nealie:

“The Great Believers” is a heavyweight, longer than your previous books and significant in content. At what point did you realize this would be an epic—both in magnitude of story and in cultural importance?

I’ve been joking that it’s a doorstop. Although I don’t want to scare anyone away from it—it’s under 500 pages, I swear, and very good for pressing leaves. This novel really found its own shape and that wasn’t something I wanted to fight. One thing that dictated the scope of the book was the trajectory of the HIV virus itself. A point of ignorance when I started writing was that I didn’t realize it would often take five years from infection to first symptoms, even back before there was good medication. Learning this changed the timeline of the novel, forced me to write about a much broader swath of time. We so often see the suddenness of AIDS depicted in art, but not its horrifying slowness. At the same time, I wanted this to be the story of a group of friends, not just one person. That tilted things toward the epic as well.

I was scared to write something this long, in part because I have a theory that long books by men are seen as big, important cultural touchstones—a kind of literary “manspreading”—while long books by women… well, there just aren’t as many. I did an experiment on my Facebook page where I asked people to name 400-plus page books from the past decade. People named the same women over and over (Donna Tartt and Meg Wolitzer) while meanwhile there were dozens of men named. I took that as a reason to...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Rebecca Makkai's website, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Borrower.

The Page 69 Test: The Hundred-Year House.

My Book, The Movie: The Hundred-Year House.

--Marshal Zeringue