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Apeirogon

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4.28  ·  Rating details ·  8,452 ratings  ·  1,649 reviews
Bassam Aramin is Palestinian. Rami Elhanan is Israeli. They inhabit a world of intractable conflict that colors every aspect of their daily lives, from the roads they are allowed to take to the schools their daughters, Abir and Smadar, each attend. Theirs is a life in which children from both sides of the wall throw stones at one another. But their worlds shift irreparably ...more
Hardcover, 463 pages
Published February 25th 2020 by Random House
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Daniel Fergus Tamulonis The book has a relationship to 'The Thousand and One Nights' of legend. Scheherazade told a sultan one story each night to keep herself alive. By the …moreThe book has a relationship to 'The Thousand and One Nights' of legend. Scheherazade told a sultan one story each night to keep herself alive. By the end of the 1001st story, the sultan saw through to his folly (he would not kill the storyteller) and renounced his decree. I am still thinking about and pondering the stories told in McCann's masterwork. He touches on so much, expands upon, relates to, connects with so many threads that appear, at first glance, to be unconnected. I learned a lifetime of knowledge in my ignorance of his subject. Give it another chance. (less)

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Angela M
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything about this book is extraordinary. I was not surprised since Colum McCann is one of my favorite writers. I’ve read all of his published books. This book though, is different from anything I’ve read by him. McCann’s words best describe it : “This is a hybrid novel with invention at its core, a work of storytelling which, like all storytelling, weaves together elements of speculation, memory, fact, and imagination....” The heart of the book is the real story of Rami Elhanan, an Israeli w ...more
Paromjit
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On the Booker Prize Longlist!

An eye opening epic blend of fact and fiction from Colum McCann, ambitiously structured with its echoes and inspirations of 1001 nights and by the Apeirogon, a shape with a countably infinite number of sides. The non-linear narrative interweaves the tragedies that befall two fathers on different sides of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, and the endless cycle of the horrors and terrors of history repeating itself. Rami Elhanan, an Israeli, lost his daughter, 13 year ol
...more
Elyse  Walters
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure yet how to frame my thoughts - but I honestly almost stopped reading completely at 13%!
Until then - I was reading this book diligently- closely - learning and FASCINATED about the migration of birds.
But then... that 13% period came. I actually felt PHYSICALLY SICK with bile in my throat. I thought I ‘was’ going to vomit. - my body reacted THAT much....

Not sure how to rate it - 5 stars in parts
3 stars in other parts ...

I’m left thinking there ARE some books best NOT read - books DEFINIT
...more
Lori
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Borges said that his despair as a writer came when he was unable to translate the limitless nature of the aleph: that point in space which contained all other points. While some fell back on birds and spheres and angels, he himself was unable to find the metaphor for this timeless repository of everything. Language was successive: it could not, by its nature, be frozen in one place and therefore couldn’t catch the sheer simultaneity of all things.
Nevertheless, said Borges, he would recollect wh
...more
Beata
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Grief is grief. It cannot be measured or weighted, 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
...more
Marchpane
BOOKER PRIZE 2020 LONGLISTED

We have words but sometimes they’re not enough.

Apeirogon: a shape with a countably infinite number of sides. A book of one thousand and one parts. A story of Israel and Palestine. Of Rami, father of Smadar, killed in a bombing aged 13. Of Bassam, father of Abir, shot dead by an Israeli soldier at the age of 10. A true story.

The hero makes a friend of his enemy. That’s my duty. Don’t thank me for doing it.

McCann constructs Apeirogon both directly and obliquely, in
...more
Karen
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I apologize to the people who loved and raved about this book!
It is a first read for me by this author.
Many parts I was very taken with the writing, but the format, and the seemingly random streams of thought..I know they all connected in ways, but damn my head hurts.
I appreciated the story and the sadness of the loss these two men endured, tragically losing both their daughters.. and I also love reading about this part of the world, I just wish it had been in a regular novel type format.
A ver
...more
Gumble's Yard
Re-read following its deserved (and predicted below) Booker longlisting.

I loved this book as much on a second read as a first - its omission from the Booker shortlist was simply to the detriment of the prize.

Once upon a time …. Rami Elhanan, a Jew, a graphic artist … father too of the late Smadar, travelled on his motorbike from the suburbs of Jerusalem to the Cremesian monastry in the mainly Christian town of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, to meet with Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian, a Muslim . fa
...more
Esil
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First 5 star read of 2020!

Perhaps not perfect, but certainly brilliant, thought provoking, emotionally charged and timely.

Apeirogon is not a linear narrative. Told in 1000 short segments, it tells the story of two men who have lost daughters to violence — one is Israeli and the other is Palestinian. This is based on a true story. Rami and Bassam are joined together in their grief and through the united project of finding a road to peace. The fragments of McCann’s brilliant narrative go back and
...more
Hugh
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020
Another book that would have made the shortlist in a saner world.

I will start with a disclosure - the edition I read was an uncorrected proof courtesy of my friends at Five Leaves bookshop. Gumble's Yard and Neil have already written excellent detailed reviews so I will try to keep this one short.

This is a book that fully deserves the hype - McCann has dared to write this collage of fact and fiction that challenges all sides in the conflict in Palestine to ex
...more
Jen
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apeirogon: a shape with a countably Infinite Number of sides.

Divide two deaths you get life

This is a dense and heavy hearted story - based on truths some Imagination and historical history of 2 men who have found each other and a lifetime friendship despite one being Israeli and one being Palestinian. They have been brought together because of the common bond they share: the death of a child.
This is an enlightening piece of living in a place that is occupied; and one that occupies it. Of guns.
...more
Paige
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"They seemed the most unlikely of friends, even beyond the obvious, one being Israeli, the other Palestinian."

Rami and Bassam's story is humbling. Centered around the Israeli-Palestine conflict, Rami and Bassam relive the day that each of their daughters died at the hands of a oppressive barrier that has effected more than just a perimeter. After each lose a daughter to violence, they learn to find solace in their grief and overcome the boundaries defined by their government.

"...everyone
...more
Collin
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 BOOKER PRIZE

The last sentence of the fist chapter says it all. “Geography here is everything”. Geography here in this part of the world can get you killed. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, if you are in a zone where restrictions say you cannot go. Even by accident, yes, geography can get you killed.

There are signs everywhere to help prevent this happening. Signs that are expected in some way to reduce the killings. Surely, it’s as simple as sticking to you
...more
Roman Clodia
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What could cause someone to be that angry, that mad, that desperate, that hopeless, that stupid, that pathetic, that he is willing to blow himself up alongside a girl, not even fourteen years old? How can you possibly understand that instinct? To tear his own body apart? To walk down a busy street and pull the cord on a belt that rips him asunder? How can he think that way? What made him? Where in the world was he created? How did he get that way? Where did he come from? Who taught him this?
...more
Cheri
!! NOW AVAILABLE !!

4.5 Stars

Apeirogon — a shape with a countably infinite number of sides — shares the stories of those living through the conflict between Palestine and Israel, through two families whose outlooks and lives were changed when the lives of their two daughters were taken on what began as ordinary days, and ended with two families grieving their loss. The journey that brought them together through their grieving was not an immediate one, or an easy one, but a worthwhile one in t
...more
Diane S ☔
Mar 29, 2020 rated it did not like it
DNF at 40%. I tried, I tried more than once, starting over each time. Maybe it is that right now my mind is so scattered that the scattered presentation if this book, made it frustrating. I usually love this author and I understand what he was trying to do with this book, but I finally have thrown in the towel. The repetition, the back and forth narrative, did me in.
But_i_thought_
According to the philosopher Martin Buber there are two kinds of relationships— I-It and I-Thou. I-It relationships are those where we miss the essential humanity of the other person. We assess them. We label them. I-Thou relationships, by contrast, are infused with empathy, devoid of judgment, qualification or objectification. I meet you as you are, you meet me as I am. We leave our baggage at the door. The possibilities emerging from the latter — a relationship unmediated by an intervening sys ...more
Joy D
“I love the fact that our stories can cross all sorts of borders and boundaries.” – Colum McCann

Set in Jerusalem and surrounding area, each of two fathers, a Palestinian and an Israeli, has lost a daughter to radical violence. United in loss, they become friends and join Combatants for Peace, “a bi-national, volunteer based, movement working throughout Palestine and Israel to promote peace.” Their friendship is grounded in fact. This book provides insight into how their daily lives are impacted
...more
Neil
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He had discovered that the secret to the structure was that the thousands of parts were not hung on a framework at all, but were harmoniously integrated.

This was my second time through Apeirogon and a re-read has only increased my appreciation for the book. It is a mystery to me how this did not make its way onto the Booker shortlist (that could be said about a number of books, but particularly this one from my perspective).

In my first reading, I pictured the book as a huge number of dots on a p
...more
Susan
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before I start this review, I have a confession to make. Other than, “Dancer,” which I loved, I haven’t read anything else by Colum McCann. When I came across this on NetGalley, I almost didn’t think of requesting it. I have too many books to read and review – it was due out fairly soon. I couldn’t fit it in. However, when a book calls to you, it calls and, with a lack of self-control which I am prone to, when it comes to the written word, I clicked the button. So, I almost came to miss this boo ...more
Julie Christine
Oh, this beautiful, heartbreaking, astonishing book. There are not superlatives adequate in quality or quantity that do justice to a work of art that both opens the mind and fills the heart.

Inspired by the real-life friendship between a Palestinian, Bassam Aramin, and an Israeli, Rami Elhanan, Apeirogon is a shimmering study of love and war. Each man lost a beloved daughter in the conflict that has torn apart this region since 1948. Smadar Elhanan was thirteen in 1997 when a suicide bomber carr
...more
Fran
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
[3.5] Apeirogon is an explosion of a novel. McCann chooses to tell the story two fathers, one Israeli and one Palestinian, by blasting pieces of their stories over 462 pages. Both have lost their daughters to murder by the opposite side. The reader is left to sift through the fragments and connect them. There are moments of piercing power, but just as often I felt lost - the story splattered into bits too small to hold.

I started by reading the print version and switched to the audio which worke
...more
Chrissie
I personally do not like this book, so I am giving it one star. This is upsetting to me. In the past I have always relied on good books from Colum McCann.

The story circles around two men, two fathers, Bassam Aramin (a Muslim Arab) and Rami Elhanan (a seventh generation Israeli Jew). Each has lost a daughter to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Bassam lost his ten-year-old Abir to a rubber bullet fired by an Israeli soldier shooting from the back of a jeep. Rami lost his thirteen-year-old Smadar
...more
Meike
Aug 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ireland, usa, 2020-booker
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020
"Apeirogon: a shape with a countably infinite number of sides" - not the worst idea for structuring a book about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. McCann's work is semi-fictional, as it is based on the real life stories of Rami Elhanan, Israeli and Jewish, and Bassam Aramin, Palestinian and Muslim. Rami's daughter Samadar was killed in the conflict in 1997 - she was 14. Bassam's daughter was killed when she was 10, in 2007. The fathers joined forces a
...more
Faith
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book examines the relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians through the stories of two fathers. Rami Elhanan is an Israeli whose 13 year old daughter Smadar was murdered by suicide bombers. Bassam Aramin is a Palestinian whose 10 year old daughter Abir was murdered by an Israeli soldier. Both men join a Parents Council of similarly devastated parents. To read this book is to “listen to the stories of Bassam and Rami, and to find within their stories another story, a song of son ...more
Prerna (on semi-hiatus)
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020.

You ever pick up a book and feel as though you've just stumbled upon a documentary, and from that point on you are merely a spectator, waiting for the stories to unfold, knowing that something horrible lurks in every corner?
And there are survivors, of course. They're the ones telling the story and will leave you with a message of hope. But sometimes, nothing can undo the knots in your chest.

Apeirogon is a story of two fathers - Rami Elhanan and Bassam Arami
...more
Paul Fulcher
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, booker-2020
The cover of Apeirogon actually names the book ‘Apeirogon, a Novel’ in the French style.

In Colum McCann’s Letters to a Young Writer: Some Practical and Philosophical Advice he comments on “Plot”:

Plot matters, but plot is juvenile: it is subservient to character and language. Writing teachers make a mistake by concentrating too much on plot. It is not the be-all and end-all in a piece of literature. Plot takes the backseat in a good story because what happens is never as interesting as how it hap
...more
Michael
A brilliant and moving composition of the stories of two men, one a Jew and one an Arab, who lost daughters to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. These are real people. Rami is a Jewish graphic designer in Jerusalem whose 13-year old daughter Smadar was killed by a suicide bombing; Bassam is a Palestinian in the West Bank whose 10-year old daughter Abir was killed outside a candy store by a rubber bullet fired by an overzealous teenager in the Israeli Defense Force. The narrative of this ...more
Peter Boyle
I'm afraid I didn't enjoy Apeirogon as much as I expected to. It tells an important story and I learned quite a bit from reading it, but its fragmented structure prevented me from properly engaging with it.

The book revolves around Rami and Bassam, an Israeli and a Palestinian respectively, who have both lost a daughter as a result of the conflict between their nations. Though the men are on opposing sides, they become friends and advocates for peace in the region. We are given their backstories.
...more
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Colum McCann is the author of three collections of short stories and six novels, including "Apeirogon," due to be published in Spring 2020. His other books include "TransAtlantic," "Let the Great World Spin," "This Side of Brightness,""Dancer" and “Zoli,” all of which were international best-sellers.

“Let the Great World Spin” won the Natio
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