Apeirogon: Book summary and reviews of Apeirogon by Colum McCann

Apeirogon

by Colum McCann

Apeirogon by Colum McCann X
Apeirogon by Colum McCann
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2020
    480 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

From the National Book Award–winning and bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin comes an epic novel rooted in the real-life friendship between two men united by loss.

Colum McCann's most ambitious work to date, Apeirogon—named for a shape with a countably infinite number of sides—is a tour de force concerning friendship, love, loss, and belonging.

Bassam Aramin is Palestinian. Rami Elhanan is Israeli. They inhabit a world of conflict that colors every aspect of their daily lives, from the roads they are allowed to drive on, to the schools their daughters, Abir and Smadar, each attend, to the checkpoints, both physical and emotional, they must negotiate.

Their worlds shift irreparably after ten-year-old Abir is killed by a rubber bullet and thirteen-year-old Smadar becomes the victim of suicide bombers. When Bassam and Rami learn of each other's stories, they recognize the loss that connects them and they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace.

McCann crafts Apeirogon out of a universe of fictional and nonfictional material. He crosses centuries and continents, stitching together time, art, history, nature, and politics in a tale both heartbreaking and hopeful. Musical, cinematic, muscular, delicate, and soaring, Apeirogon is a novel for our time.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"While undoubtedly destined to win awards, the format of Apeirogon is a challenge. Short chunks of text that are more like reflections or sketches are tied loosely together by a true event. It's a devastating, powerful read, but not an easy one, which is perhaps as it should be considering the subject matter." - BookBrowse

"Apeirogon's flashback-filled narrative unfolds in a single day as two men...battle the firestorms of ancient hatreds while trying to heal from their own tragedy... In the spirit of Picasso's Guernica, Apeirogon reminds us that such incandescent art evokes humility and light in the face of oppression and loss." - O, The Oprah Magazine

"[M]asterful...Balancing its dazzling intellectual breadth with moments of searing intimacy, this is a transformative vision of a historic conflict and a triumph of the novelist's art." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[McCann's] writing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is deeply nuanced and sensitive to the afflictions of both sides. As a whole, the book is a remarkable achievement. Imperfect but ultimately triumphant, McCann's latest novel might be his finest yet." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"McCann beautifully re-creates Rami and Bassam's real-life relationship while offering a sweeping range of counterbalancing narratives, ultimately conveying the profound essentiality of their friendship. An important book; McCann's considerable creative powers astound." - Library Journal (starred review)

"Colum McCann loves a high-wire act, and Apeirogon is a powerful, political tightrope walk of a novel. It's the story of modern Israel and the story of modern Palestine. This beautiful, deeply felt book is first and foremost an extraordinary act of listening." - Nathan Englander, PEN/Malamud Award–winning author of Dinner at the Center of the Earth

"Distinguished by empathy and intelligence, this transformative novel marks a new threshold of writing about the conflict. Colum McCann manages to take it all in without prejudice and with profound feeling for the suffering of all sides. 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. Apeirogon is greater than a novel in more than one sense, and will both touch and enrich readers, wherever they live and whatever they know about the region." - Assaf Gavron, author of The Hilltop

This information about Apeirogon shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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lani

Wrenching stories
Breathtaking.. Heart stealing characters. A voice that somersaults on the page. Pulsates with urgency and lingers with hope. My absolute favorite of 2020. A mosaic of small chapters, descriptive snippets of the Israeli Palestinian confrontations examined through the voices of the actual individuals, Bassam Aramin and Israel Rami Elhanan . In 1997, Rami's 13 year old daughter was killed by a suicide bombing on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem. Ten years later, Bassam's daughter was killed by an Israeli's 18 year old border guard with a rubber bullet when she was going to buy candy. These two men who were acquainted previously through an organization called Combatants for Peace join Parents Circle, a group of fellow mourners who are joined together by grief to encourage a peaceful solution to their respective struggles. Their search for peace in the narration of their powerful stories and discourse forms the struggle to find common ground. Their stories are one of aching humanity.This is a book that begs one to feel and experience, rather than one just reading their tragedies.

Betty Taylor

Extraordinary!
Truly masterful writing. This novel will probably be my favorite book of the entire year.

I am Jewish, have several Arab friends, and have spent a lot of time in Israel so this book captured my attention when I first heard about it. The novel is based on the true story of a friendship between an Israeli father and a Palestinian father; a friendship, between two men who were raised to hate each other, formed from the shared grief of two fathers. Rami Elhanan’s 13-year-old daughter was killed by a suicide bomber; Bassam Aramin’s 10-year-old daughter killed by a rubber bullet.

Apeirogon - a shape with a countably infinite number of sides. This so aptly describes the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

McCann presents the heartbreaking story of these two men with sensitivity and compassion and leaves us with a slight glimmer of hope. Written in fragments, instead of chapters, I got the sense of snapshots of the reality of life in Israel – a kaleidoscope of fragments coming together and shifting, morphing from one reality to another, constantly changing, yet remaining the same.

(Note: The movie rights for this book have already been purchased by Steven Spielberg’s company Amblin.)

Heartfelt thanks to Random House for the Advance Reading Copy.

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Author Information

Colum McCann Author Biography

Photo: Seamus Kearney

Colum McCann is the author of seven novels and three collections of stories. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he has been the recipient of many international honours, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish arts academy, several European awards, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination. In 2017 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts. His work has been published in over 40 languages. He is the co-founder of the non-profit global story exchange organisation, Narrative 4, and he teaches at the MFA program in Hunter College. He lives in New York with his wife, Allison, and their family.

Author Interview
Link to Colum McCann's Website

Other books by Colum McCann at BookBrowse
  • TransAtlantic jacket
  • Thirteen Ways of Looking jacket
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