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Christodora
Cover of Christodora
Christodora
A Novel
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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. 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 once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now 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. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a true response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, 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.

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. 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 once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now 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. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a true response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, 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.

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Awards-
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 cover story on the new HIV-prevention pill regimen PrEP was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Magazine Journalism. He also covers LGBT issues, arts, pop culture, travel, and fashion for publications including the New York Times and Conde Nast Traveler. He lives in Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 23, 2016
    Murphy’s (The Breeders Box) vivid account of the AIDS crisis and its aftermath centers on the venerable Christodora, a 16-story apartment building in New York’s East Village. Erected in 1928, the building has gone through as many changes as the neighborhood. Its current tenants include Jared and Milly, an artistic couple, and Mateo, their adopted son. Mateo, also an artist, is a drug addict (first trying heroin in 12th grade), which turns out to be a part of a complicated legacy of other characters: Hector, an early AIDS activist mourning the loss of his lover; Issy, a young woman who contracts AIDS and becomes pregnant; and Milly’s mother, Ava, an AIDS researcher with a history of mental illness. These characters witness the spread of AIDS, its ultimate politicization, and the attempts to first control and then eradicate the disease in the following decades. Mateo and the other surviving characters come together in an environmentally transformed Manhattan in 2021, where they have one final reckoning with the past. 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. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House.

  • Kirkus

    June 1, 2016
    An ambitious social novel informed by an extended perspective on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, from the early 1980s to the near future. Murphy, an experienced reporter on the disease, is plainly inspired by Larry Kramer, whose journalism thundered against anti-gay power structures and whose plays like The Normal Heart dramatized AIDS victims. In his novel, Murphy wants to bring Kramer's vision into the 21st century, though he goes about it with more artistry and less polemic. At the novel's center is Mateo, the adopted son of Milly and Jared, two affluent East Village artists (the title refers to the stately apartment building where they live). In 2009, just as Mateo is leaving high school, he begins a slow slide into heroin addiction, enabled by Hector, a former Christodora resident with a meth habit. Hector was formerly an activist focused on access to AIDS medications, Milly's mother worked for New York's health department when AIDS exploded, and that's just where the convenient coincidences begin. But if Murphy's characters can feel all too neatly arranged amid the plot, fracturing the novel's timeline--leaping from 2001 to 1995 to 1989 to 2021, etc.--helps make these connections more organic and unforced. And the author is expert at inhabiting a variety of mindsets, from Milly's bourgeois anxieties to Mateo's mother's despair as an HIV-positive Latina to Mateo's own capacity to manipulate people to feed his habit. Murphy's big theme is that drugs are a persistent and radically reshaping force, whether it's antiretrovirals, antidepressants, or crystal meth--and are chased after in almost equal measure in a search for a feeling of home. Murphy can't manage every plot thread with equal depth--Mateo's parents are comparatively wan figures. But when Mateo's at the center, as he often is, Murphy has a potent symbol of loss and redemption. A poignant, if carefully manicured, exploration of a health crisis that hasn't yet ended.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    March 1, 2016
    Murphy, who has long reported on HIV/AIDS, LGBT issues, pop culture, travel, and the arts for a wide range of publications, here travels through New York City from the AIDS-scarred 1980s to the hipster-dominated 2000s to the wealth-drenched 2020s, all by focusing on a single East Village building and a well-bred and aspirational couple named Jared and Milly. With an eight-city tour.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A Novel
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