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 neighbour, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly's and Jared's lives in ways none of them can anticipate. Meanwhile, the couple's adopted son, Mateo, grows to appreciate the opportunities 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 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.
A novel of great scope and ambition, Christodora is a bold and poignant portrait of the bohemian Manhattan of sex, drugs, art, and activism, from the early 1980s into the near future.
Brilliantly kaleidoscopic . . . Murphy is exceptionally skilled at writing about addiction, the intertwining of bliss and abjection... What makes this novel remarkable, though, is the way it captures the full arc of Aids in New York . . . There have been several whopping New York novels in the last couple of years, but none of them possesses Christodora's generosity, its weathered and unflinching faith in what people can achieve. -- Olivia Laing * Guardian * This novel is your next must-read . . . A captivating, multi-stranded New York epic about the AIDs crisis . . . An engrossing and inspiring story of loss, love and hope, set against a backdrop of art, activism and addiction. * Observer * This thrillingly accomplished novel... [Its] varied minds and voices are realized so convincingly that Christodora sometimes seems the product of spirit possession. And it is joyous despite its subject matter... Murphy's skills are most nakedly on display as he describes the addictions in which Mateo and others find solace, and their electrical-shocking, soul-warping, mind-annihilating trips. Desperately intense, it is the kind of scene that requires putting a book down for a moment to take a breather. * New York Times * Hugely ambitious . . . this rich, complicated story . . . compelling . . . The richness of Murphy's account . . . the most moving sections of the book deal not with the height of the [AIDS] crisis but with its aftermath . . . The book's overwhelmingly powerful final sections... the last hundred [pages] have a rare narrative sweep and force. For all the despair it documents, [it is] a book about hope -- Garth Greenwell * Washington Post * 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 [Murphy] writes about addiction with undeniable fluency and power. * Sunday Times * 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 Murphy injects fresh vim into this tale . . . [He] jumps back and forth through the decades here, creating a fractured structure that neatly reflects the fractured lives of those caught up in the epidemic and its aftermath. And it's the latter, in the end, that proves Murphy's most poignant subject. * Daily Mail * An intimate portrait of a bohemian family, Christodora is also a capacious historical novel that vividly recreates the lost world of downtown Manhattan in the eighties - a nuanced portrait of an era in which artists were unwitting agents of gentrification and the bright dawn of gay liberation was brutally interrupted by the AIDS epidemic. -- Jay McInerney An ambitious, time-traveling novel textured with the detail and depth of a writer who spent years reporting from the front * New York magazine * A magnificent novel . . . I was struck by the unflinching generosity of Tim Murphy's vision. -- Olivia Laing An impassioned and "devastating" story set in a real-life building . . . the breathtaking new novel from Brooklyn writer Tim Murphy . . . a powerful and rewarding reading experience. Stylistically challenging, emotionally devastating (both positive and negative), realistic (even when it shifts into an imagined future) and impassioned, it is one of the finest novels we are likely to encounter this year. * Toronto Star * Tim Murphy's rich saga of New York in the age of AIDS . . . To write a novel as full of truth as Christodora . . . Tim Murphy had to know Manhattan; he had to know AIDS; he had to be fluent in the languages of visual art, addiction, activism, bipolar disease and depression; he had to have American cultural history from 1981 at his fingertips . . . Then he had to make all that information disappear, more or less, by seamlessly embodying it in characters and plot . . . He pulls it off with very few lapses, developing a rich and complicated New York saga . . . An exciting read . . . While Christodora has the scope of other New York epics, such as Bonfire of the Vanities, The Goldfinch and City on Fire, it is slimmer than any of these by several hundred pages. Capacious yet streamlined, it is a very fine book. * New York Newsday * Brilliant . . . this year's most ambitious and devastating contribution to the New York City realist novel * Interview * 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 . . . A powerful evocation of the plague years. * Publishers' Weekly * An ambitious social novel informed by an extended perspective on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, from the early 1980s to the near future . . . A poignant . . . exploration of a health crisis that hasn't yet ended. * Kirkus Reviews * A textured, layered, tightly woven exploration of the AIDS epidemic and its impact on a community linked by proximity, love, drugs, and pain. -- Barnes and Noble blog Outstanding and judicious . . . This breathtakingly panoramic saga feels lithe and refreshingly current . . . Christodora is the most exciting New York novel since Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life. * Attitude * Christodora . . . has got it all: drugs, sex, music, race, class, art, activism, adoption, and tears. It's a gut-wrenching, happy-ending story . . . Murphy's troubled characters move deliberately toward but instinctively away from each other, too unsettled and sad to be comfortably together, too human and hopeful to stay apart for long. -- Salon.com Several times a year, a few books are published that are so compelling and immersive they simply demand the unadulterated free time of the reader. Tim Murphy's Christodora is one of those powerful, ambitious sagas . . . The folks who populate his pages are difficult to forget, and their legacy fully dramatizes the devastation and frenzied panic of the epidemic . . . Each scene is filled with atmospheric detail, period dialogue, and the intricate nuances of a character's movement, attitude, and emotion . . . A novel that reads like a contemporary motion picture beautifully acted by a durable cast with a been-there-done-that caliber of experience. Murphy has truly outdone himself with a perceptive and accomplished novel that is captivating and immensely entertaining. * Bay Area Reporter * Although it's epic in scope, ultimately [Christodora] is about loneliness and the struggle to find love, accept love and to arrive at a state of self-love. A tremendous achievement. * Winq * Reminiscent of [Jay] McInerney at his peak, concerning itself with young Manhattanites and their relationships with sex, drugs, psychologists, art and real estate . . . There is no denying the quality of the writing and the deep integrity of this novel. -- John Boyne * Irish Times *
Tim Murphy is a journalist who has written for, among others, the New York Times, New York Magazine, Details, Conde Nast Traveler, WSJ Magazine, Out, and The Advocate. He lives in Brooklyn and in the Hudson Valley.