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Rose novel nominated for Book of the Year

On the 40th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic, Bywater Books/Amble Press announced the release of As If Death Summoned by Alan E. Rose, creator of the regional WordFest program for regional writers.

The book has been named a finalist in the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards, winners to be announced in June.

The novel takes place in 1995, when more than 300,000 Americans had already died of AIDS, most of them gay men. In a foreword, the author discusses the similarities and differences between that national health crisis and the current coronavirus pandemic.

About the book: In 1936, a man was caught in a blizzard on Australia’s Bogong High Plains. Found unconscious by a search party, he was taken to the nearest township where an old aborigine woman made the cryptic comment, “They brought back only his body.”

He died soon after. In the decades since, there have been reports of a lone figure seen wandering the high plains; when approached, the man vanishes and no trace of him can be found.

Almost 60 years later, a young American returns from Australia, exhausted after 10 years on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic and haunted by dreams of the Bogong High Plains. He, too, is lost in a kind of blizzard, struggling to remember a time when life was about more than death.

Plunging back into the heart of the epidemic by working at an AIDS organization in Portland he eventually comes to understand the old woman’s words and his mystic connection to the Bogong High Plains: When he returned to the States, he brought back only his body. With expected pathos and unexpected humor, "As If Death Summoned" testifies to the power of grief to erode a life, and—for those who can find a way through—the power to rebuild and renew it.

Rose worked with Cascade AIDS Project in Portland from 1993 to 1999, and prior to that was a volunteer with the Victorian AIDS Council (now Thorne Harbour Health) in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of three previous novels and coordinates the monthly WordFest events in southwest Washington state, hosts the KLTV program Book Chat, and reviews books for The Columbia River Reader.


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