This compelling story dug its way into me. The "gimmick" of jumping around in time and between characters makes increasing sense and impact. And this book tells important stories about people we often want to forget. It is filled with humanity. Among the best things I can say is that the people in this novel feel real to me and I care about almost all of them. Recommended By Doug C., Powells.com
Tim Murphy uses the Christodora, a historic apartment building in the East Village, as the namesake and the backdrop for his compelling debut novel. The story follows the lives of several residents over the course of four decades. He writes incredibly well about the intersection of art and ambition, activism and loss, the consequences of addiction and the devastation of the AIDS epidemic. I can think of no novel in recent memory in which I felt so drawn to its characters and so emotionally invested in the outcome of their lives. Recommended By Shawn D., Powells.com
Christodora is a long hard read, and yet I envy those who are about to jump into these pages for the first time. Filled with well-drawn characters all with strong story lines, Christodora walks us through the early years of AIDS/HIV and into our near future as this disease recedes in America. The lives of the characters intertwine, sometimes in surprising ways, as they traverse the challenges of addiction, mental illness, misunderstanding in love, and most heinously, a government who has turned a blind eye to an epidemic raging amongst its people. This is a worthy, compelling, and sometimes brutal story showing a clear-eyed view into four decades of AIDS activism. Recommended By Tracey T., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"[A] perceptive debut novel....Murphy vividly recaptures 1980s and ’90s New York, dampening any pop-culture nostalgia with reminders of the crude pharmacology and callous bureaucracy imposed upon those struggling with AIDS....His multigenerational tale is a clever inversion of the usual addiction-begets-AIDs narrative and a reminder that despite recent medical advances, the disease still finds ways to ravage people’s lives....It never wavers in its warmth toward its characters, or its insistence upon the possibility of healing." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[A] vivid account of the AIDS crisis and its aftermath...Murphy has written The Bonfire of the Vanities for the age of AIDS, using the same reportorial skills as Tom Wolfe to re-create the changing decades, complete with a pitch-perfect deployment of period detail. Skipping back and forth in time over 40 years, and projecting itself into the near future, the novel achieves a powerful evocation of the plague years." Publishers Weekly
"A moving portrait of New York in the time of AIDS, Tim Murphy’s honest and insightful writing gives Christodora a particular vibrancy that causes the characters to leap, whole, into the reader’s imagination. This spectacular novel is an important addition to literature that captures New York in all its glory and despair." Candace Bushnell
"An impassioned, big-hearted, and ultimately hopeful chronicle of a changing New York that authoritatively evokes the despair and panic in the city at the height of the plague." Hanya Yanagihara
About the Author
Tim Murphy has reported on HIV/AIDS for twenty years, for such publications as Poz magazine, where he was an editor and staff writer, Out, Advocate, and New York magazine, where his July 2014 cover story on the new HIV-prevention pill regimen PrEP was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Magazine Article. He also covers LGBT issues, arts, pop culture, travel, and fashion for publications including the New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Details, and Yahoo! Style. He lives in Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley.