Apeirogon: A Novel (Hardcover)
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1ST
Apeirogon, a “countably infinite” shape, describes McCann’s new book perfectly in that it evokes the countably infinite stories that we as humans tell ourselves and each other in our desire to make sense of an often senseless world. Set in Israel and Palestine, it is the story of Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian, and Rami Elhmenanan, an Israeli, who have both lost daughters to the violent conflict between their nations. These two characters and their stories are real, the rest is fiction. Apeirogon covers the larger themes of life: friendship, love, loss and belonging, and does so beautifully. However, the beating heart of the book—something that could cure all conflicts—comes in the exact center of the novel and is told by Rami..... “if they [the Palestinians] were anything other than objects to be feared, they would become real people.” The story itself is told in the manner of the 1001 tales in the Arabian Nights, with Bassam’s and Rami’s true stories in the middle of the book. Each vignette advances not only their tales but also the physical and emotional checkpoints that they must negotiate, small passages that stitch together story, history, nature and politics. A soaring, searing novel that is at once bleak and hopeful, this is absolutely one of the best books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. – Jan Sloan, Random House, $28 Editor’s note: Bookseller Gayle Shanks from Changing Hands in AZ was traveling in Israel and Palestine and had read (and loved!) Aperiogon. She said in an email, “Tonight as part of our tour, we met with two men who have started an organization called the Parents Circle, a part of another organization called Combatants for Peace. To my utter shock and tearful amazement, the two men introduced themselves and turned out to be the very men in the novel!! They were as shocked as we were and have actually not yet read the book. They are going to call McCann and tell him that I loved the book and that they met me. My best to all of you from the crazy and beautiful Middle East.— From Betsy Burton
This sequel to The Old Ways is an epic, global exploration of our relationship with darkness, burial and what lies beneath the surface of both mind and place, taking us through deep, geologic time, into the present, and on into the future. We travel with him from Arctic sea caves to the catacombs of Paris to the northeast border of Italy and Slovenia, exploring deep recesses that have been inhabited off and on for eons. One of the most compelling sections in Underland is Macfarlane’s exploration of the network beneath the earth's surface and the ways trees communicate with the help of common fungi—a factual example of "forest wisdom." From the life-affirming influence of trees to the deep hiding places where nuclear waste will be stored for thousands of years, Macfarlane explores our fascination with, and dread of, that which exists out of our sight. This book will absolutely change the way you look at the world—and the way you interact with it.— From Jan Sloan
March 2020 Indie Next List
“This is a towering, breathtaking, sweeping work of poetic and technical brilliance. Although much of Apeirogon resides in the current and past state of Israeli-Palestinian relations, the novel demonstrates how each person, each story, in this ultimately small section of the world represents but one point of an infinitely sided shape — how between all of us, even those locked in seemingly irreconcilable conflict, there pulses a vital connectivity, a path to understanding, forgiveness, and compassion.”
— Ben Newgard, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A quite extraordinary novel. Colum McCann has found the form and voice to tell the most complex of stories, with an unexpected friendship between two men at its powerfully beating heart.”—Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire
LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE • From the National Book Award–winning and bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin comes an epic novel rooted in the unlikely real-life friendship between two fathers.
Bassam Aramin is Palestinian. Rami Elhanan is Israeli. They inhabit a world of conflict that colors every aspect of their lives, from the roads they are allowed to drive on to the schools their children attend to the checkpoints, both physical and emotional, they must negotiate.
But their lives, however circumscribed, are upended one after the other: first, Rami’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Smadar, becomes the victim of suicide bombers; a decade later, Bassam’s ten-year-old daughter, Abir, is killed by a rubber bullet. Rami and Bassam had been raised to hate one another. And yet, when they learn of each other’s stories, they recognize the loss that connects them. Together they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace—and with their one small act, start to permeate what has for generations seemed an impermeable conflict.
This extraordinary novel is the fruit of a seed planted when the novelist Colum McCann met the real Bassam and Rami on a trip with the non-profit organization Narrative 4. McCann was moved by their willingness to share their stories with the world, by their hope that if they could see themselves in one another, perhaps others could too.
With their blessing, and unprecedented access to their families, lives, and personal recollections, McCann began to craft Apeirogon, which uses their real-life stories to begin another—one that crosses centuries and continents, stitching together time, art, history, nature, and politics in a tale both heartbreaking and hopeful. The result is an ambitious novel, crafted out of a universe of fictional and nonfictional material, with these fathers’ moving story at its heart.
About the Author
Colum McCann is the internationally bestselling author of the novels TransAtlantic, Let the Great World Spin, Zoli, Dancer, This Side of Brightness, and Songdogs, as well as three critically acclaimed story collections and the nonfiction book Letters to a Young Writer. His fiction has been published in over forty languages. He has received many international honors, including the National Book Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, the Pushcart Prize, and an Oscar nomination for his short film Everything in This Country Must. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the Irish association of artists Aosdána, and he has also received a Chevalier des Artes et des Lettres award from the French government. In addition, he has won awards in Italy, Germany, and China. A contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Paris Review, he teaches in the Hunter College MFA Creative Writing program. He lives with his family in New York City, where he is the cofounder of the global nonprofit story exchange organization Narrative 4.
“Brilliant . . . powerful and prismatic . . . Apeirogon is an empathy engine, utterly collapsing the gulf between teller and listener. . . . It achieves its aim by merging acts of imagination and extrapolation with historical fact. But it’s undisputably a novel, and, to my mind, an exceedingly important one. It does far more than make an argument for peace; it is, itself, an agent of change.”—The New York Times Book Review (cover review)
“This is a wondrous book. In an accretion of splendid detail, McCann writes with an amazing abundance of humanity as he describes the age-old story of inhumanity to man. The effect is absolutely staggering—it will bring you to your knees. Writing at the top of his game, McCann brings us a book that we sorely need. It left me hopeful; this is its gift. What a read!”—Elizabeth Strout
“Virtuosic . . . Colum McCann’s grand and exhilarating novel Apeirogon is . . . a profound prayer for peace. . . . Apeirogon reminds us that such incandescent art evokes humility and light in the face of oppression and loss.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Dazzling . . . hypnotic . . . heartbreaking and mesmerizing . . . Besides the kaleidoscopic brilliance of the narrative, this is also a deeply human story.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“McCann performs his own epic balancing act between life and art, writing with stunning lyricism and fluent empathy as he traces the ripple effects of violence and grief, beauty, and the miraculous power of friendship and love, valor and truth.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Distinguished by empathy and intelligence, this transformative novel marks a new threshold of writing about the conflict. Apeirogon will have a potent effect on all those who read it and, remarkably, could lead to great consequences for the future of this place.”—Raja Shehadeh, author of Palestinian Walks
“A work of incredible magnitude . . . McCann finds the emotional accuracy, the sensitivity, and the beauty to tell the heartbreaking reality of life in Israel-Palestine, while allowing readers a glimmer of necessary hope.”—Assaf Gavron, author of The Hilltop
“A soaring, ambitious triumph . . . deeply nuanced and sensitive . . . a remarkable achievement . . . McCann’s latest novel might be his finest yet.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)