Literary Fiction

Apeirogon – Colum McCann

12 March 2020
Apeirogon Book Cover Apeirogon
Colum Mccann
West Bank
Bloomsbury Publishing
February 25, 2020


'Nothing like any book you've ever read' MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

'An essential hymn to peace and forgiveness'

The novel of a lifetime about two men and their daughters: divided by conflict, yet united in grief. Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin live near one another - yet they exist worlds apart. Rami is Israeli. Bassam is Palestinian. Rami's license plate is yellow. Bassam's license plate is green. It takes Rami fifteen minutes to drive to the West Bank. The same journey for Bassam takes an hour and a half. Both men have lost their daughters. Rami's thirteen-year-old girl Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber while out shopping with her friends. Bassam's ten-year-old daughter Abir was shot and killed by a member of the border police outside her school. There was a candy bracelet in her pocket she hadn't had time to eat yet. The men become the best of friends. In this epic novel - named for a shape with a countably infinite number of sides - Colum McCann crosses centuries and continents, stitching time, art, history, nature and politics into a tapestry of friendship, love, loss and belonging. Musical, muscular, delicate and soaring, Apeirogon is the novel for our times.' 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

Grief is grief. It cannot be measured or weighed or argued. Two fathers, two daughters killed by the opposite side, two families shattered, and still the same grief.

‘Apeirogon’ was a demanding novel for me due to several reasons, the first one being that I had a general understanding of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Do I know more now? Yes, and not only about the decades of fight, but about life in that region and its history. Mr McCann provides in his unusual narration both the stories of the Elhanans and the Aranins, but also so much more. I loved all passages about the birds’ migration, about ordinary, daily life, about architecture etc. The names and lots of facts were mostly unknown to me, but I am happy I eventually read a book that brought me closer to understanding ideas expressed by both sides.

There are surprises … A Palestinian studying the Holocaust … Building mutual support by two fathers whose little daughters were the innocent victims of the conflict and who come from two sides of the conflict … Such support is natural in many places, but Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aranin are fathers on the land which has been disputed for decades, on the land where the innocent are killed and where two sides fail to reconcile.
Personally, I found this book a challenge, however, it reads surprisingly well. I think the varied length of chapters allowed me to concentrate on the text. I admit I would like to return to this book because this is not a novel for one reading only, at least not for me. And it is also a great lesson in efforts that should be made towards understanding and peace.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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