Dear Mustafa

About Dear Mustafa

Dear Mustafa tells the story of an artist whose near-death experience on September 11, 2001 compels him to confront the legacy of his late lover who died a decade earlier of AIDS.

When Peter discovers a journal his lover Rano kept from 1989-1991, he must confront a big secret: back in Rano’s homeland of Algeria, Rano left a son, Mustafa. Rattled by the journal’s anger and revelations, Peter flees San Francisco for his New York gallery debut. Given the chance to dine with Thomas, an influential Harlem-based art collector, Peter postpones his return, inadvertently missing one of the doomed 9/11 flights. The calamity of 9/11 collides with the unresolved aftermath of AIDS to hijack Peter’s life: he can’t paint and he can’t sustain connections with others. Over the next year, he must grapple with Rano’s secrets as he struggles to paint—and to love.

Peter has company. His art dealer, Erica, must convince her tech wizard ex-boyfriend to salvage Rano’s brilliant Internet research. Brice, a former dancer, must resolve his feelings for Peter and Rano and for his own curtailed creative career. Immigrant-turned-millionaire Linh must reconcile with her family. As the first anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the collector Thomas waits to see how Peter will honor it, and whether he’s resolved his relationship with Rano.

Counterpointing the story of Peter and his friends, Rano’s journal—addressed to his son Mustafa—chronicles the agony of dying from AIDS while revealing the perspicacity of an Internet scholar far ahead of his time. Only by uncovering the ultimate clue Rano left online can Peter and his friends move forward together.

Dear Mustafa is a historical novel describing the AIDS crisis from the inside and connecting it in new ways to other American tragedies, from Vietnam to 9/11.

About the Author

Steven Damron knows the stories he's telling. As a witness to AIDS and a Manhattanite on 9/11, he draws on personal experiences of these catastrophes to render two intertwined stories. He studied English at Dartmouth College and Creative Writing at The Writing Salon in San Francisco. Currently, he's writing in Barcelona.