Matadero Madrid center for contemporary creation
Rebecca Makkai in conversation with Andrea Aguilar
With “The Optimists”, Rebecca Makkai offers us, in the words of Michael Cunningham: “An absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it’s like to live during times of crisis”. The novel describes the horrors and tragedies of the first years of the AIDS epidemic in Chicago in the 1980s, as well as its evolution and repercussions over the decades. Through the intertwined stories of its two main characters, Yale and Fiona, Makkai offers us a reflection on loss, but also on a sense of continuity through the stories we tell, their narrators and the lessons we learn from them. “The Optimists” was a finalist of the 2019 Narrative Pulitzer Prize.
Rebecca Makkai (Skokie, 1978) is the author of three novels (“The Optimists”, “The Hundred-Year House” and “The Borrower”), as well as a collection of stories called “Music for Wartime”. “The Optimists” was a finalist of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and received the Carnegie Medal of the ALA and the LA Times’ Book Prize, among other awards. Makkai is a member of the MFA faculty at Sierra Nevada College and at North-western University, and is artistic director of StoryStudio Chicago, a foundation whose mission is to build communities of narrators who question, explore and end up changing the world through the power of stories.
Andrea Aguilar (Madrid, 1978) is a cultural journalist with a degree in History and Politics from the University of Kent. She received a scholarship from the University of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and lived in New York until 2014. She currently coordinates information on books for the culture section of the El País newspaper. She has also published her work in such magazines as The Paris Review, El Malpensante or Reading Room Journal.