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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents Apeirogon by Colum McCann, read by Colum McCann.

Longlisted for The 2020 Booker Prize

A New York Times best seller

A BBC Book of 2020

Chosen as a Book of The Year by The Sunday Times, Observer, Guardian, I Paper, Financial Times, New Statesman, Scotsman, Irish Times, BBC.com, Waterstones.com

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 13-year-old girl Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber while out shopping with her friends. Bassam’s 10-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.

©2020 Colum McCann (P)2020 Penguin Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Nothing like any book you’ve ever read.... Think of discovering an entirely unprecedented, and profoundly true, narrative form. Think about feeling that the very idea of the novel, of what it can be and what it’s capable of containing, has been expanded, forever.... All I can really tell you is, read McCann’s book. It’s an important book." (Michael Cunningham)

"The tale of a friendship between an Israeli and a Palestinian.... Composed of 1,001 chapters, it has won effusive praise from early readers." (New Statesman)

"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)

What listeners say about Apeirogon

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Mesmerising

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complicated and Colum McCann’s story responds with sophistication, sensitivity, nuance and depth. It is a great tribute to those on all sides searching for peace. I enjoyed listening to McCann’s narration - including his rhythm and Irish accent - and will certainly look out for his other novels.

3 people found this helpful

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Closest capture of living in Israel and West Bank

Closest ever capture of living in Israel and West Bank outside of actually living there

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Disappointing

Disjointed and disappointing. With every new sentence came a new chapter. I need a refund!

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Breathtaking

Do not expect a linear read as McCann is exploring the complexities of war and the fragile possibility of peace. Hold this. Hold that. Everything is threaded to something else. Loved it. Will come back to it again and again.

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Felt a bit like being in a lecture theatre

This was a monumental book. I suspect it would be better read than listened to. The use of very short chapters came across as an annoying affectation in audio form. I also found the book didactic, which is ok if you like that sort of thing, but as a reference it would be better in text than audio. That said I persevered and overall am glad that I did.

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Conflict and grief on a macro and micro scale

As a reader with general knowledge of the IsraelPalestine conflict but no more, this was thought provoking and compelling listening. The novel format presents challenges as an audio book but the narration (by the author) is wonderful. There are 1001 chapters of fact and fiction, with many chapters just a phrase long - each providing a segue into a new tangent, relevant to the main story. Each chapter is prefaced by the chapter number which can be distracting at times - at other times it makes for a moment to savour. Beautifully written, angry, tender, funny, heartbreaking.... go on the journey.

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  • David M
  • 08-08-2020

Occupation

Rami Elhanan (a Jew) and Bassam Aramin (a Palestinian) co-found a small group that calls itself Combatants for Peace, to oppose the violence arising from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The group meets in the Everest Hotel, Bayt Jala, near Bethlehem, just off Highway 60. The conflict has already killed both of their daughters. They embark on speaking tours to share their anguish with as many people as possible, and campaign for the end of hostilities on both sides and the end of oppression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli army.

This is largely a true story. In chapters 500, (the two middle chapters), both the main characters give us a substantial account of their individual stories. The other 998 chapters consist of short snippets of things closely, or not so closely relevant to the main story. We get: mathematics, olive trees, birds, geography ("geography is everything in the West Bank"), history, sling shots, atrocities, cruelties, injury - often in graphic detail, oppression, sounds, silence, music, the price of water, military service, checkpoints, repetition, heat, horses, nuclear technology, lists - many lists, and did I mention repetition.

The book really did teach me an awful lot about the area that I didn't know before. Quite amazing really. Right from the start I was researching the region on-line to supplement what I was hearing from the book. My first urge was to find a map of the West Bank. Then to find out what areas A, B, and C are all about.

I thought this book was was not unlike "Milkman" which won the Man Booker Prize in 2018, though in my opinion, not quite as good. Trying to structure the book mathematically like an apeirogon was a clever idea in theory, but perhaps a little tedious to listen to as an audio book.

They really should have paid a proper actor to perform this. The voice we heard was low energy and miserable for all 15 hours 20 minutes. A listener can only take so much misery - even if misery has some relevance.

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  • Waggy From Derby
  • 13-05-2020

eye. opening and hopeful

being already aware of the Palestinian & Israeli problems, I never thought an answer could be found. This book could be the start of that answer and those of similar problems elsewhere in the world. Being sympathetic to how Palestinians are treated by the occupying Israeli's does not make me an Israeli or Jew hate, I am not. I wish both sides would sit down and read this book, listen, to each other, talk and settle their problems. The Israeli's don't have to leave, just to compromise and stop treating Palestinians as terrorists. The Palestinians have to accept the Israeli's need a home land. Compromise and understand for all our sakes.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-02-2021

Beautifully written, but not an easy read

Beautifully written, touching, highly intellectual. Colum goes into the most minuscule details to make the story come alive. The way the book is written (lots, LOTS of short chapters, jumping between different characters, time, and seemingly unrelated stories) keeps you on your toes, but sometimes also makes it tricky to follow.

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  • Colin
  • 20-04-2021

a must read/listen to

an excellent background study to the israeli/palestinian struggle. Easy to read intermittentlu...put it down and you will want to soon pick it up.

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  • debbie
  • 10-04-2021

Beautifully written

I find that some books are best read rather than listened to, to savour the writing, and this is one of those. I would like to see the words on the page. It’s undoubtedly beautifully written and read but doesn’t work for me as an audiobook.

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  • Hugh M. Clarke
  • 29-01-2021

A Poetic “Novel”

The “novel” combines fact and fiction, to described the lives of the two protagonists, Rami Elhanan in Israel and Bassam Armani in Palestine.
Their stories are based on interviews with the author. Both have lost their young daughters in the conflict which has gone on, intractably, for decades. One daughter is killed by Israeli troops, shot outside her school, in the back of the head, by a rubber bullet; the other killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber. As the novel progresses, details emerge (about the girls, the protagonists and about life in Israel and Palestine) and pile up, like the many atrocities committed in Israel and Palestine.

Both men are attempting to come to terms with their loss, it’s injustice and its pain. Both are attempting to respond without hatred. Their situation and that of their countrymen and women, is hopeless and desperate. The language of the novel is very poetic. There are references to historical figures such as Picasso, Einstein, Goethe and others. There are descriptions of migrating birds, which function as a metaphor for freedom and an alternative perspective - a “bird’s eye view”.

Authors generally don’t read their own books well, but Colum McCann is an exception. He reads the book with great skill and compassion. The story is told tenderly and as a result, the anger and bitter pain, felt by both men, stands out very strongly. It is clear that McCann is influenced by his knowledge and experience of the atrocities which took place in his native country, Ireland. This enables him to write and read with empathy and sincerity.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-10-2020

Brilliant!! So thought provoking, tear jerking, and raw.

The title is so fitting! This book is fabulous - simultaneously helps the reader to understand the situation better, and to understand how little they understand. I shed many a tear whilst listening to this wonderful audiobook.

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  • sin sin minkin
  • 03-10-2020

essential, beautiful, perfect

Every now and then I read something for which I think, 'I will treasure this.' Apeirogon is one in maybe twenty books like this for me.

The importance of its message, the reality of it, the faultless delivery in word and voice, everything is utterly beautiful.

This book should have won the Booker 2020. Nothing else, this year or last, has come close.

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