"Like Rebecca Makkai's The Great Believers, author-activist Malloy's newest novel is a heartrending portrayal of the realities of healing.” —Oprah Daily, Best LGBTQ Books of 2021
Acclaimed author Brian Malloy brings insight, humor, and the authenticity of his own experiences as a member of the AIDS generation to this universal story of love and loss set in New York City and Minneapolis at the peak of the AIDS crisis. Published on the 40th anniversary of the disease’s first reported cases, After Francesco is both a tribute to a generation lost to the pandemic as well as a powerful and universal exploration of heartbreak, recovery and how love can defy grief.
The year is 1988 and 28-year-old Kevin Doyle is bone-tired of attending funerals. It’s been two years since his partner Francesco died from AIDS, an epidemic ravaging New York City and going largely ignored by the government, leaving those effected to suffer in silence, feeling unjustifiable shame and guilt on top of their loss.
Some people might insist that Francesco and the other friends he’s lost to the disease are in a better place, but Kevin definitely isn’t. Half-alive, he spends his days at a mind-numbing job and nights with the ghost of Francesco, drunk and drowning in memories of a man who was too young to die.
When Kevin hits an all-time low, he realizes it’s time to move back home to Minnesota and figure out how to start living again—without Francesco. With the help of a surviving partners support group and friends both old and new, Kevin slowly starts to do just that. But an unthinkable family betrayal, and the news that his best friend is fighting for his life in New York, will force a reckoning and a defining choice.
"This novel is fresh, well-observed, often funny, sometimes angry, and always real. I can't think of another novel about the AIDS years that captures that difficult, messy, intense age more accurately or movingly." —Christopher Bram, author of Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America
"In this highly recommended novel, the pain and rage felt by Kevin and those in the trenches with him is palpable and uncomfortable and real. So too is the love and warmth of spirit they manage to nurture in order to survive." —Library Journal(Starred Review)
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Set against the worst of the 1980s AIDS epidemic, this heartfelt novel isn’t just moving—it’s healing. Kevin Doyle is still reeling from the loss of his partner Francesco two years earlier, and he’s haunted by poignant memories of the other friends he’s lost to the virus. Kevin returns to Minneapolis, but even the comforts of home are painful in their own ways. Having lived through New York City’s AIDS crisis himself, novelist Brian Malloy brings a tactile sense of realism to Kevin’s story. Although the tragedy and heartache that Kevin endures brought us to tears more than once, Malloy also conveys joy, humor, and a beautiful sense of gay culture and community. After Francesco is a gorgeous and cathartic read that will enrich the way you understand a painful moment in American history.