Rebecca Makkai

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Rebecca Makkai
Makkai at the 2015 Texas Book Festival
Makkai at the 2015 Texas Book Festival
Born (1978-04-20) April 20, 1978 (age 41)

Rebecca Makkai (born April 20, 1978) is an American novelist and short-story writer.[1] Her first novel, The Borrower, was released in June 2011.[2][3] It was a Booklist Top Ten Debut, an Indie Next pick, an O Magazine selection,[4] and one of Chicago Magazine's choices for best fiction of 2011.[1] It was translated into seven languages. Her short stories have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and as well as in ″The Best American Nonrequired Reading″" 2009 and 2016; she received a 2017 Pushcart Prize and a 2014 NEA fellowship. Her fiction has also appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, The Threepenny Review, New England Review, and Shenandoah.[1][2] Her nonfiction has appeared in Harpers and on and the New Yorker website. Makkai's stories have also been featured on Public Radio International's Selected Shorts and This American Life.[5] Her second novel, The Hundred-Year House, is set in the Northern suburbs of Chicago, and was published by Viking/Penguin in July 2014,[1][6] having received starred reviews in Booklist, Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. It won the 2015 Novel of the Year award from the Chicago Writers Association and was named a best book of 2014 by BookPage. Her short story collection, Music for Wartime, was published by Viking in June 2015. A starred and featured review in Publishers Weekly said, "Though these stories alternate in time between WWII and the present day, they all are set, as described in the story “Exposition,” within “the borders of the human heart”—a terrain that their author maps uncommonly well.” The Kansas City Star wrote that "if any short story writer can be considered a rock star of the genre, it's Rebecca Makkai."

Her novel about the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Chicago, titled The Great Believers was published by Viking/Penguin Random House in June 2018.[7] The Great Believers won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction[8] and was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction.[9] It was also a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction,[10] and won the LA Times Book Prize,[11] the ALA Stonewall Award,[12] and the Chicago Review of Books Award.[13]

Early life[edit]

Makkai, who grew up in Lake Bluff, Illinois, is the daughter of linguistics professors Valerie Becker Makkai and Ádám Makkai [hu]. Her paternal grandmother, Rózsa Ignácz [hu], was a well-known actress and novelist in Hungary.[14] Makkai graduated from Lake Forest Academy, and earned a master's degree from Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English.[2]

She has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Northwestern University, Lake Forest College, Sierra Nevada College, and StoryStudio Chicago.

She has two children and lives in Chicago.


  • The Borrower, Viking (2011)
  • The Hundred-Year House, Viking (2014)
  • The Great Believers, Viking (2018)

Short story collections[edit]

  • Music for Wartime, Viking (June 2015)


  1. ^ a b c d "Rebecca Makkai, author, Chicago – Rebecca Makkai". Rebecca Makkai. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Interview with Rebecca Makkai". Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  3. ^ Chicago Tribune. "The Borrower By Rebecca Makkai – Chicago Tribune". Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  4. ^ "The Borrower". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  5. ^ "Book Review: 'The Borrower' by Rebecca Makkai". Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  6. ^ "Chicago Author Spotlight: Rebecca Makkai". Archived from the original on November 5, 2017. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  7. ^ "The Great Believers". Penguin Random House. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  8. ^ "'The Great Believers,' 'Heavy: An American Memoir,' receive 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction". News and Press Center. January 27, 2019. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  9. ^ "The 2018 National Book Award finalists are in. Here's the full list". Vox. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  10. ^ "2019 Pulitzer Prizes". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  11. ^ "Book Prizes". Festival of Books. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  12. ^ "Stonewall Book Awards List". Round Tables. September 9, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  13. ^ Morgan, Adam (October 10, 2018). "The Fiction Shortlist for the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Award". Chicago Review of Books. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  14. ^ Garner, Dwight (July 7, 2015). "Review: Rebecca Makkai's 'Music for Wartime,' Stories With Echoes of Loss". The New York Times. Retrieved April 18, 2019.

External links[edit]