—Recommended by Paul, City Lights Books
In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan's East Village, the Christodora. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and the attempts by activists to galvanize a true response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, to a future New York City of the 2020s where subzero winters are a thing of the past, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.
On Avenue B in the heart of the Lower East Side, the Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbor, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was at one point celebrated for his work as an AIDS activist but has now become a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly and Jared's lives in ways none of them can anticipate. Meanwhile, Milly and Jared's adopted son, Mateo, grows to see the opportunity for both self-realization and oblivion that New York offers. As the junkies and protestors of the 1980s give way to the hipsters of the 2000s and they, in turn, to the wealthy residents of the crowded, glass-towered city of the 2020s, enormous changes rock the personal lives of Milly and Jared and the constellation of people around them, even as ghosts of the past cast a shadow on their future.
A captivating portrait of how ambition, compulsion, and trauma form and re-form the lives of us all, Christodora is a closely observed panoramic novel that powerfully evokes the danger, chaos, and wonder of New York City—and the strange and moving ways in which its dwellers’ lives can intersect.