Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

7 Books to Read on World AIDS Day: HIV Narratives in Modern Literature Are Having a Resurgence, Many Focusing on the Emotional History of the Epidemic

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

7 Books to Read on World AIDS Day: HIV Narratives in Modern Literature Are Having a Resurgence, Many Focusing on the Emotional History of the Epidemic

Article excerpt

So Lucky, by award-winning author Nicola Griffith, is a fascinatingly intense, semiautobiographical novel about a woman facing down her demons. The profoundly personal narrative reads much like a memoir, and readers can't help but empathize with protagonist Mara Tagarelli. In the space of a single week, her wife leaves her and she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In the professional world, Mara is the head of a multimillion-dollar AIDS foundation (a career inspired by someone very close to her living with HIV) and in her personal life, she is a committed martial artist. But when her life is turned upside down overnight, Mara finds herself feeling completely lost and alone. She can't rely on family, her body is letting her down, and friends and colleagues are distancing themselves, treating her like a victim. Just when all seems lost, she finds an inner strength to fight back against a system that often savagely mistreats the disabled and chronically ill-though her actions unleash new enemies. (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

In the Shadow of the Bridge a memoir by novelist Joseph Caldwell, is at its core a love story. But this is a love story that is bittersweet as it comes to fruition in the shadow of the AIDS epidemic. Much of the memoir focuses on the young bohemian's life in 1950s-'60s New York, a place he migrated to in order to live freely as an out gay man. Living on a street and neighborhood under the Brooklyn Bridge that would soon cease to exist, Caldwell rubs elbows with greats like James Baldwin, finds moderate success as a playwright, and ends up writing for TV soap operas like Dark Shadows and The Secret Storm. Amid it all, he also falls madly in love. However, the fiery affair quickly fizzles and Gale, the man he loves, leaves Caldwell heartbroken and longing. Years later, through a serendipitous twist of fate, the author is reunited with Gale in the darkness of the AIDS epidemic, where Caldwell has become a caretaker for the dying. (Delphinium Books)

Bloodflowers by W. Ian Bourland examines the photography of Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955-1989), an artist whose work created a cultural touchstone for conversation around gender and queerness, race and diaspora, and the enduring legacy of slavery and colonialism. Born in Nigeria, FaniKayode migrated through the art and culture scenes of Washington, D.C., New York, and London, where he produced much of his overall body of work--the majority of which consisted of his provocative, often surrealist, homoerotic photographs of Black men. Bourland brilliantly describes FaniKayode's work in a period of global transition, and how it created and responded to profound social, cultural, and political change, in addition to his expert analysis of Fani-Kayode's portraits, Bourland ties together the unique intersecting elements that made the art of this era incredibly original: surrealism, neo-Romanticism, Yoruban religion, the AIDS crisis, experimental film, loft culture, and house and punk music. (Duke University Press)

Illuminations on Market Street by Benjamin Heim Shepard covers the AIDS epidemic, nothing new for the author. As the writer and editor of six books, including White Nights and Ascending Shadows: An Oral History of the San Francisco AIDS Epidemic and From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization. Shepard is wellversed on the topic. …

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