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.
"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
"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." - Apple Books - BEST OF JUNE, 2021 SELECTION
"After Francesco is a tribute to those who died from AIDS and those who loved them...filled with humor, grief, heartbreak, recovery, the endurance of love, and eventually, hope." - Saint Paul Pioneer Press
"Malloy's newest novel is a heartrending portrayal of the realities of healing." - Oprah Magazine - BEST LGBTQ FICTION OF 2021 SELECTION
"With wit, compassion and vivid atmospherics of the era, Malloy has written an inspiring story of a defining era of loss, but one that galvanized LGBTQIA+ Americans to forge a new era of visibility and solidarity." - New York Journal of Books
"This simultaneously poignant and hilarious novel will resonate with many readers now that we ourselves have lived through a year with a killer virus stalking us. With this masterful juxtaposition, Malloy calls us to a new era of compassion." Raven Book Store
"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