Saturday, July 16, 2022

The ten best 21st century Chicago novels

Edward McClelland is a native of Lansing, Mich., which is also the birthplace of Burt Reynolds and the Oldsmobile.

McClelland’s most recent book, Midnight in Vehicle City: General Motors, Flint, and the Strike That Built the Middle Class, is a narrative account of the 1936-37 Flint Sit Down Strike, which led to the establishment of the United Auto Workers as the nation’s flagship labor union. His previous book, How to Speak Midwestern, is a guide to the speech and sayings of Middle America, which The New York Times called “a dictionary wrapped in some serious dialectology inside a gift book trailing a serious whiff of Relevance.”

At Chicago magazine McClelland tagged ten "favorite modern fiction titles set in Chicago," including:
The Great Believers (2018) by Rebecca Makkai

In 1985, Yale Tishman is a young, gay art curator at Northwestern University, trying to acquire a set of valuable paintings from a family in Wisconsin. In 2015, Fiona Marcus is a desperate mother, searching for her lost daughter in Paris. The AIDS plague of the 1980s hovers over both stories. Yale, who lives in Boys Town, is losing friends and worried about his own mortality. Fiona’s brother died of the disease 30 years earlier. Makkai’s period detail is impressive: her characters seek treatment at Howard Brown Health Center, founded to treat LGBTQ+ patients.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Great Believers is among Joel Fishbane's five best books with multiple timelines, The Center for Fiction's 200 books that shaped 200 years of literature, seven top books for World AIDS Day, and Joanna Hershon's seven darkly fascinating books about cults.

My Book, The Movie: The Great Believers.

--Marshal Zeringue