Apeirogon - A Novel

This webinar took place on Wednesday August 25 2021 at 7 a.m. Pacific Time. Watch the recording below:


Apeirogon takes its inspiration from the real-life friendship between a Palestinian, Bassam Aramin, and an Israeli, Rami Elhanan: an Israeli, against the occupation and a Palestinian, studying the Holocaust. The men are united in their grief – they both lost their daughters: Smadar, turned into “a scattered human jigsaw” at the age of 13 by a suicide bomber, and Abir, assassinated aged 10 by a trigger-happy member of the Israeli army. Both men join the Parents Circle, a group of the fellow-bereaved who unite in their sorrow to press for a peaceful resolution to the conflict: “This became their jobs: to tell the story of what had happened to their girls.”

In McCann’s novel, the tragic deaths of Smadar and Abir are interlaced with a host of other stories. There is Bassam’s epiphany in prison as a young man watching a documentary about the Holocaust; there is the story of the Israeli soldiers who came to build a playground in memory of Abir, despite the risk this posed to their lives. McCann includes seemingly unrelated stories about François Mitterrand’s last meal, about the high-wire walker who crossed from Palestine to Israel, about a mad missionary: so many stories and short histories that speak to the situation in Palestine.

For all its grief, Apeirogon is a novel that buoys the heart. The friendship of Bassam and Rami is a thing of great and sustaining beauty. There’s a picture of the two of them, asleep together on a train in Germany, McCann considers, is this the solution to the conflict: something as simple and easy as friendship, as the acknowledgement of a shared experience, as love.

It’s a masterpiece, a novel that will change the world, and you don’t hear that very often – The Guardian

About the Author

Colum McCann

Colum McCann is the author of seven novels and three collections of stories. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he has been the recipient of many international honours, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish arts academy, several European awards, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination. In 2017 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts.  His work has been published in over 40 languages.  

He is the co-founder of the non-profit global story exchange organisation, Narrative 4, and he teaches at the MFA program in Hunter College.  He lives in New York with his wife, Allison, and their family.

About the Host

LisaLisa A. Berkley, PhD is the founder and director of Institute for Inner Economy, a non-partisan think tank dedicated to operationalizing positive peace for governance, diplomacy, and civil progress, at the local, national, and international level. Her work as a peace facilitator, activist, and municipal leader has spanned across three continents and stems from more than 25 years of experience in alternative/holistic medicine and education, stress management, and interpersonal conflict resolution. Her work has been publicly recognized across the globe.

Dr. Berkley’s current focus is on helping small to mid-sized cities adopt holistic city frameworks in order to be in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  She is an elected City Councilmember in her home city of Marina, California where she serves on a number of Boards including Women In International Security’s U.S. West Coast Chapter (WIISWest), the Housing Resource Center of Monterey County, and AMBAG (Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments) where she is their representative on CALCOG (California Association of Councils of Governments).  Dr. Berkley also serves on the Advisory Council for Compassionate California, is the Lead for Compassionate Monterey County, and is the Co-Lead for the Charter for Compassion’s Peace Sector.


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