ApeirogonFrom The National Book Award Winning And Bestselling Author OfLet The Great World Spin Comes An Epic Novel Rooted In The Real Life Friendship Between Two Men United By LossColum McCann S Most Ambitious Work To Date, Apeirogon Named For A Shape With A Countably Infinite Number Of Sides Is A Tour De Force Concerning Friendship, Love, Loss, And BelongingBassam Aramin Is Palestinian Rami Elhanan Is Israeli They Inhabit A World Of Conflict That Colors Every Aspect Of Their Daily Lives, From The Roads They Are Allowed To Drive On, To The Schools Their Daughters, Abir And Smadar, Each Attend, To The Checkpoints, Both Physical And Emotional, They Must NegotiateTheir Worlds Shift Irreparably After Ten Year Old Abir Is Killed By A Rubber Bullet And Thirteen Year Old Smadar Becomes The Victim Of Suicide Bombers When Bassam And Rami Learn Of Each Other S Stories, They Recognize The Loss That Connects Them And They Attempt To Use Their Grief As A Weapon For PeaceMcCann Crafts Apeirogon Out Of A Universe Of Fictional And Nonfictional Material He Crosses Centuries And Continents, Stitching Together Time, Art, History, Nature, And Politics In A Tale Both Heartbreaking And Hopeful Musical, Cinematic, Muscular, Delicate, And Soaring, Apeirogon Is A Novel For Our Time 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 whose thirteen year old daughter Smadar was killed by suicide bombers and Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian, father of ten year old Abir who was shot after leaving a candy store Their friendship is forged on shared sorrow and on empathy, meeting through organizations for grieving families, both Israeli and Palestinian, working together sharing their stories with each other and the world This book is breathtaking, literally in the detailed descriptions of what happened to these two young girls, breathtaking in how it conveys the depth of grief of their families and equally in the illustration of empathy and in the unique structure It s not a straightforward narrative It s an all encompassing blend of stories about historical figures, quotes from literature, biblical references, art and science and even a few photographs, none of which are affecting than those of Abir and Smadar The linkages are both fascinating and jolting And the birds, so many images real, sculptured , none affecting than the dove Everything is connected Everything has meaning Everything is related to the deaths of ten year old Abir and thirteen year old Smadar, to the deaths of those who were killed with them, to the deaths of those who were killed before them and those who we re killed after them, to those who happened to be Israeli, and those who happened to be Palestinian and to the Holocaust victims, to all these human beings It s epic in scope I read it slowly because I didn t want to miss a single word or a connection between people past and present, between events past and present, between things past and present and the heart of this story The emotional impact is quite stunning The book moves around in time, from their pasts to their presents to the moments that their daughters were killed This book is as cerebral as it is emotional and the combined effect leaves me in awe of Colum McCann The prose is unparalleled It s the kind of book that left me changed I highly recommended it to fans of the author and to anyone who is looking for an absolutely unique reading experience My favorite of the year and definitely one of my all time favorites Of course, I had to find out about Bassam and Rami and I read numerous articles, interviews, etc and it was obvious that McCann than does justice to their stories It s worth taking the time to read and listen to some of these in their own words What hope, what empathy is possible even after the impossibly horrific thing that happened to their daughters I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House through NetGalley. 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 DEFINITELY NOT HEALTHY for some readers I didn t need this story to know how FUCKING PAINFUL WAR HAS BEEN BETWEEN TWO NATIONS..I was in Israel during the Yom Kippur War I lived in a bomb shelter for part of it I have CLOSE FAMILY MEMBERS crazy Americans who immigrated to Israel at a time when the CITIES were at HIGH TIME DANGEROUS when Jewish temples all over America were pulling their travel plans for the Bar and Bat Mitzvah kids not letting them travel to their beloved country Yep I worried sick for a couple of years for the safety of my cousins permanently choosing to live Israel ButI didn t want or need to read about ZAKA Really Did I need to read about those GHASTLY DETAILS I already knew what ZAKA does ZAKA is a team of people who collect body parts for burial They assembled the corpses bagged them in plastic and hand them over to the Israeli police Isn t that enoughinformation I can figure out myself that it s bloody and AWFUL.AND They were meticulous Rigorous Precise Special care was taken not to mix the blood of victims and the bombers THIS PART IS HEARTFELT and wonderful and I THANK THESE PEOPLE FOR THEIR WORK but why McCann felt it necessary to go further into graphics about a civilian finding an eyeball MY GOD.I angrily wanted to toss my book to the wall but I didn t feel like breaking my kindle, ether so I suppressed my aggression For me. it would ve been enough for me to know about the two precious little girls who are killed One from Israel one from Palestine and learn how their fathers came together and learning about the migration was literally and figuratively brilliant but parts were unnecessary and too graphic for my well being The acknowledgment page was very moving and important to methough It wasn t only Colum McCann s talent I thought about or this story with scenes I wished I hadn t read but I sat thinking about the MANY people from whom McCann could never acknowledged or thank enough.The unsung heroes community of people who contributed facts, and inspiration to McCann are people I d like to light a candle too I guess I ll give this book 4 stars but I need a few days to recover It was THAT DISTURBING for me So who doesn t need this book people who know war first hand People like myself who lived in Israel during a war.There are reasons that some things are best not talked about to the masses. 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 forth in time, zeroing in on different parts of these characters lives and families, weaving in scraps of history, politics and nature and seemingly random anecdotes and thoughts I can t really do justice to the power of this book through my review As I read some parts especially those dealing with Rami and Bassam s grief and their paths forward I found myself holding my breath in awe What was not perfect At times, I found myself losing focus this is a long book with many tangents But this is a minor flaw.This won t be for everyone It s not a straightforward narrative and it s infused with a political message But it really turned my crank.I think I ve given a five star rating to every one of McCann s books I ve read He takes huge chances with big payoffs He writes like an angel deceptive simplicity.Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy. I love the fact that our stories can cross all sorts of borders and boundaries Colum McCannSet 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 by the conflict The primary theme is how we are similar in our response to grief, despite whatever differences we have in life McCann s message is geared at instilling a spirit of peace and understanding in the world In geometry, an apeirogon from the Greek apeiros, infinite, boundless and gonia, angle is a generalized polygon with a countably infinite number of sides It can be considered as the limit of an n sided polygon as n approaches infinity Thus, as sides are included, it approaches the form of a circle McCann has structured his book in such a manner He takes pieces and parts of history, nature, war, art, and geography, and each becomes a chapter Many of these subjects are further elaborated in subsequent chapters Some include only a single sentence, while others are many paragraphs in length The chapters count up to 500, then back down to 1 It is an inventive and unusual way to tell a story, or in this case, series of stories showing the interconnectivity of seemingly disparate entities.The storyline is intentionally fragmented, with snippets of information scattered here and there It is up to the individual to piece it all together in the mind s eye This aspect will appeal to some readers than others I found it extremely creative and applaud the author for attempting to bring harmony into a discordant world I will be interested to see how it is received by those that live in the areas described This ambitious book will appeal to readers of experimental fiction I expect it will win literary awards Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an advance reader s copy This book is scheduled to be released February 25, 2020. 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 the end Through sharing their stories of the loss of their daughters, they were able to see these infinite sides to each other s story, which led to understanding, and a friendship Based on the lives of real people, Rami Elhanan who is Israeli and his daughter, Smadar, and Bassam Aramin who is Palestinian and his daughter, Abir Abir was ten years old when a rubber bullet ended her life, Smadar was thirteen While the feelings of the mothers of Smadar and Abir are shared, the focus is on their fathers, how they met, and how they helped each other find some degree of peace.The format of this story is somewhat unconventional it flits back and forth through time as different memories are recalled in one thousand segments that vary in length Several range from being as short as three words to a sentence or two, one segment has no words, and others are conventionally chapter length if short chapters Some include photographs or quotes from notable figures some political, others offer varying perspectives These segments begin at one, go to five hundred, and then back down to one, offering a encompassing view of the ways these lives were personally affected, their journeys to a beginning of a sense of personal peace, and a broader view of both sides of the Israeli Palestinian conflict A heartbreaking story about love, loss, conflict and life, with a heartfelt plea for peace.Pub Date 25 Feb 2020Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Group Random House Once, long ago, these roads were so much easier to travel Even in bad times No by passes, no permits, no walls, no unapproved paths, no sudden barricadesNow it is a tangle of asphalt, concrete, light pole Walls Roadblocks Barricades Gates Strobe lights Motion activation Electronic locks In the hills of Beit Jala, an unmarked blimp with computers and infrared cameras identifies every vehicle s license plate Israeli yellow plate Palestinian green plate The shopkeeper heard the pop A child on the pavement Abir Aramin, 10 years old, was hit by a rubber bullet after purchasing a candy bracelet The border guard firing the bullet was 18 years old traffic had been blocked by the soldiers at the far end of the road Nothing was being allowed through no ambulances, no police, no paramedics Two hours later, the ambulance carrying Abir was still stalled near the checkpoint Smadar Elhanan, age 13, died at the hands of a suicide bomber Smadar was a firecrackershe danced on the tablecartwheeled in the garden She had been out shopping for school books Smadar s father, Rami often felt that there were nine or ten Israelis inside him, fighting The conflicted one The shamed onethe bereaved one The one who marvelled at the surveillance blimp s invention The one sick and tired of all the seeing.Abir Aramin s father Bassam, had been imprisoned in Hebron as a teenager During his 7 year imprisonment, Hertzl, a kindly Israeli prison guard, threw himself over Bassam to prevent one of Bassam s frequent beatings Under the prison s Open University System, Bassam took classes in Hebrew Know your enemy, know yourself It slowly dawned on Bassam that the only thing they had in common was that both sides had once wanted to kill people they did not know In 2005, he co founded Combatants for Peace.Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian and Rami Elhanan, an Israeli, met at a meeting of Combatants for Peace Rami thought of war as a sort of awful artwork the stretchers went in white and came out red Bassam no longer wanted to fightLanguage was the sharpest weaponHe wanted to wield it Soon they were meeting virtually every single day More than their jobs, this became their jobs to tell the story of what happened to their girls The power of Apeirogon A Novel by Colum McCann lies in the tome s unique style of prose Presented in 1001 numbered segments, varying in length from one sentence to several pages, author McCann alternates between time periods and interconnects stories that include the toll of the Holocaust, the use of weaponry such as rubber bullets and coffin tanks, and the use of cardboard blowguns as a means of communication from prison The grief experienced on both sides of the Israeli Palestinian conflict is sensitively handled This work of fiction is based upon two real crusaders for Mid East peace, Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin Highly recommended Thank you Random House Publishing Group Random House and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review Apeirogon. There s an old saying, he said, about how the foreign journalist who travels to the Middle East and stays a week goes home to write a book in which he provides a pat solution to all of its problems If he stays a month, he writes a magazine or newspaper article filled with ifs , buts and on the other hands If he stays a year he writes nothing at all Asymmetry by Lisa HallidayNo, that s not a quote from Colum McCann, but I came across it on Twitter in the midst of reading Apeirogon and couldn t get it out of my head Everyone thinks they have the answers to problems that they live outside of, and only realize how much they don t know when they start to learn Just ask Jared Kushner how his plan for Middle East peace is going.I don t know what time or research McCann put into this novel This isn t a swipe at his choice to write Apeirogon, but of an observation The outsider coming in and telling locals how their own people should be governed is a theme in the book as well The story of Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan and their daughters, Abir and Smadar, is an important one to be told There have been articles written about them and speaking engagements given by the two men, but in this novelization McCann goes deeper into the struggles of two fathers left mourning their young daughters who are determined to prevent these tragedies from happening again And again And again.I m unfamiliar with McCann s writing style, but I can appreciate what he s chosen to do with this work Maybe it s different than what he normally does, I wouldn t know While it worked for me at first, I found myself drifting away between passages because they were just so disjointed I wanted to read this, but I had to drag myself back to the words on the page multiple times after wandering away I d say for that reason it s probably not super ADHD friendly.Of the two of them, I think Rami may be easier for Western audiences to relate to He was like every person who has the privilege of divorcing themselves from the political implications of the world The problem with having an epiphany only after something affects you directly is that you have to wait for it to absolutely devastate your life before you understand that you were dangling precariously the entire time You become awakened to that reality only after it s too late to do anything about it Prior to this you had convinced yourself that not only was it never going to happen to you or anyone you care about, but that anyone who does kick up a ruckus over such divisive issues is a hysterical, partisan outrage artist who can t have any actual grievances in a world that s been so good to you Both nihilism and nonchalance are two sides of the same coin indifference Bassam, on the other hand, lived a life I could hardly imagine He has been occupied his entire life, was brutally punished as a teenager and young adult, but came out of his seven year internment already wanting peace, not vengeance Losing his daughter may have been a major catalyst for him, but it wasn t the ultimate turning point That said, both he and Rami s message is stronger together than separately It s not often we get to see the same conflict discussed so completely from both points of view Some people had strong reactions to the explicit depiction and aftermath of violence in the book McCann relays the information very clinically and probably a little too in depth It comes off somewhat cold and removed, missing the compassion he has when talking about Rami and Bassam Also, some of the hundreds of passages are used to weave in facts about various species of birds, as a metaphor or symbol While some are interesting, I didn t enjoy the detail that was used to describe capturing, torturing and killing the birds that were destined to be eaten I understand why so many are raving about this novel It s an important subject and features real life figures in the Israeli Palestinian peace movement After finishing it, though, I think I would have been fine just reading an article written about the two girls and their respective families Thanks to Random House Netgalley for an advance copy Israeli Rami Elhanan and Palestinian Bassam Aramin have both lost their beloved daughters in the seemingly unending warzone of disputed land in Israel Colum McCann takes his title, Apeirogon, from a multifaceted shape of countable infinite sides, which still makes my brain hurt just thinking about But repeatedly it reverts to the day in 1997 when Rami s daughter 13 year old Smadar is killed by suicide or homicide if you will bombers, and 10 years later when 10 year old Abir is felled by a rubber bullet We learn about these methods of terror, their genesis, the effect on a normal family and how these two grieving fathers become well known travelling the world in an effort to promote peace But there is so much McCann has a distinct style of writing, weaving disparate stories together into a patchwork, which forms a quilt in the mind Here he is at his most ambitious, incorporating so many elements, such an astounding feat Birds overhead, their migratory patterns as well as the roles they play for humans, and even Philipe Petit in his walk across the Hinnom Valley McCann even gives a patch to his native Ireland, which usually plays a part in any of his works Mitterand, the divisive wall, even Banksy It s long and there s quite a bit of repetition, but never boring and forever haunting. APEIROGONBY COLUM McCANNApeirogon is a shape with infinite sides and angles to it Thus is the endless conflict that takes place between Israel and Palestine for as long as I can remember In this stunning story that is both multifaceted drawn from both fiction and facts comes an unlikely friendship between two friends from opposite countries rooted together drawn by love, unimaginable loss and the desire to spread their commonalities as often as they can to try to spread peace wherever they can For these two men who live day to day with being told what roads they are allowed to drive on, who must navigate checkpoints and drive with color coded license plates that are monitored by the big blimps in the sky are united by the most staggering losses and heartbreak that a parent will ever face They do not dwell in resentment or crippling hatred but instead share common ground by sharing their stories in whatever venues they can to tell about their two beloved daughters in an effort to bring peace to their uncertain worlds Their two lives will never again be the same Ever Bassam Aramin is of Palestine descent and lost his ten year old daughter, Abir when she was shot in the back of the head and killed by a rubber bullet while she had just been out buying candy Rami Elhanan of Israel lost his thirteen year old beautiful, sparkling daughter, Smadar when a suicide bomber blew up eight people including Smadar after school when she was out buying books after school Both men are forever united in grief and yet for as much as they tell their stories describing their daughter s they are both extending an olive branch to anyone who will listen and maybe they can save others from having that ugly, crooked finger of fate pointed at some other innocent family Although this is a novel the transcripts taken from both Bassam about abir and Rami about Smadar are factual Thank you to Net Galley for providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review All opinions are my own. Another thoughtful topical book from Colin McCann author of Let The Great World Spin This is the true story of a friendship between two fathers a Palestinian and Israeli in Israel who both had lost young daughters to the conflict between their nations one to a suicide bomber and one shot accidentally with a rubber bullet by a soldier McCann uses the structure of The 1001 Nights and divides the book into 1001 sections He explores the stories of the two girls their fathers Rami and Bassam who meet in a group for parents who have lost their children to the Israeli Palestinian conflict It s is extremely moving yet not sentimental Clear eyes And nobody is safe There are chapters about their personal histories and families about history geography of the region mythological colonial stories religion the future the past and the ever present In the end it is a multifaceted and infinitely sided mathematical figure which is what the title means infinite sided The book is historical fiction though most of the narrative is based on truth and I learned a lot My only criticism is that there is no real tension in the narrative as you know everything at the beginning But much depth is developed in looking at this story from the many sides The relationship between the two fathers is hardly facile and deeply moving enrichened with meaningful detail There is no black or white, right or wrong in this story we are all innocent we are all culpable There are so many nuances in the characters they are not 100% heroic but extremely human It is obvious that there are no winners in this conflict It s hard to describe this book unique and so deeply felt I received a copy of this book from netgalley also thank you to publisher RandomHouse ApeirogonANovel NetGalley

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  • Hardcover
  • 480 pages
  • Apeirogon
  • Colum McCann
  • 27 September 2019
  • 9781400069606