From acclaimed author Brian Malloy comes a stunning novel of love, friendship, and surviving the deepest loss, set in New York City and Minneapolis in 1988, at the peak of the AIDS crisis.
Two years after his partner, Francesco, died, twenty-eight-year-old Kevin Doyle is dusting off his one good suit jacket for yet another funeral, yet another loss in their close-knit group. They had all been young, beautiful, and living the best days of their lives, though they didn't know it. That was before New York City began to feel like a war zone, its horrors somehow invisible, and ignored by the rest of the world.
Some people might insist that Francesco is in a better place now, but Kevin definitely isn't. He spends his days in a mind-numbing job and his evenings drunk in Francesco's old apartment, surrounded by memories. Francesco made everything look easy, and without him, Kevin struggles to keep going. And then one night, he stops trying. When Kevin awakens in a hospital, he knows 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 old and new friends, 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.
Drawing on his experience as part of the AIDS generation, Brian Malloy brings authenticity, insight, sensitivity, and surprising humor to a story that is distinct yet universal in its powerful exploration of heartbreak and recovery, and the ways in which love can defy grief.
"Furious, funny, and beautiful, After Francesco immerses the reader in the crisis of the AIDS epidemic in 1980s New York. Brian Malloy has created a cast of characters so memorable -- so vividly witty and aggrieved and brave and bewildered -- you'll never want to put this novel down."
- Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement, and winner of Thurber Prize for American Humor.
"Kevin Doyle is a wonderfully complex character, a butch knot of muscles, scar tissue, and survivor's guilt. Brian Malloy surrounds him with a lively mix of friends and family who often understand Kevin better than he understands himself. We can't help feeling worried for him. 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 Father of Frankenstein (made into the film Gods and Monsters), Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America, and Lives of the Circus Animals.
"This is a character I trust completely as a reader, a character who accesses sharp gallows humor as readily as tears, a character both insecure and brave, a character who effortlessly evokes the 1980s East Village he loves but despises. This book centers around a convincing love story, something uncommon enough, but more than that it's a book about the strength of friendships that are forged in the face of so many enemies and threats. Honest, sarcastic, bighearted--you'll wish it didn't have to end."
- John Brandon, author of Arkansas, Citrus County, and A Million Heavens, and the short story collection, Further Joy
"With characters who are flawed and funny, courageous and fearful, Brian Malloy tells a story that could serve as a guidebook on how to love, how to fight for those we love, and how to honor those we've lost without losing ourselves. Beautifully written and infused with a sly humor, After Francesco is a love letter to life."
- Lorna Landvik, bestselling author of Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons and Patty Jane's House of Curl
"Heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, yet somehow also sweet and funny, After Francesco is a must-read for those who survived the AIDS epidemic, those who merely witnessed it, and those who never knew about it but need to know now. Brian Malloy has crafted a universal tale of grief and resilience."
- Bonnie Kistler, author of House on Fire
Featured title in Reading Group Choices 2021 Print Edition