Dear Mustafa opens weeks before September 2001. Peter is set to celebrate his long awaited Chelsea art gallery opening. Then, as he watches the World Trade Center towers collapse, his own world collapses. In a brush with death, Peter has missed an ill-fated flight to San Francisco. The trauma of surviving 9/11 stirs memories of the trauma he has sidestepped for a decade, the death of his lover Rano. Peter’s life craters even deeper when he discovers Rano’s journal, a journal addressed to a son named Mustafa in Algeria. Mustafa is not the only revelation that haunts Peter. His struggles over the next year to understand Rano and 9/11 paralyze his desires to love and to paint.
Counterpointing Peter’s struggles are Rano’s diary entries themselves, letters chronicling the life of this brilliant early internet academic. The horrors of AIDS punctuate the thrills of his ACT UP activism and research discoveries.
Peter's story is shared by Rano’s great friend and sometime lover Brice, by the immigrant-turned-millionaire Linh, and by the gallery owner Erica, all determined that Peter will exhibit again. Hovering over everyone is Thomas, an African-American art collector suffering the loss of his own lover. The influential New Yorker must decide whether he seeks to embrace Peter's art or the man himself. The story crests as Thomas waits to see how Peter will honor the first anniversary of 9/11, and with whom.
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.
Dear Mustafa is an historical novel describing the AIDS crisis from the inside and connecting it in new ways to other American tragedies, from Vietnam to 9/11. Damron finds inspiration from as far back as Albert Camus’ The Plague and from as recently as Covid-19.