This is an epic history of some of the residents of an East Village building known as the Christadora superimposed on some of the historical events that constituted the American reaction (or, in the case of the government, lack thereof) to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Its non-linear narrative jumps around from various time frames from the 80s through 2021 and it is narrated by at least half a dozen distinct characters.
Murphy does an outstanding job slow-building empathy for the characters, many of whom are bundles of bad choices resulting in terrible consequences. Central to the story is a pair of (secular) Jewish East Village artists married to one another who adopt the child of a Latina AIDS activist, who dies from complications arising from HIV/AIDS. The child proves to be an artist in his own right, but in his teenage years rebels against his parents and ultimate becomes a heroin addict--destroying many lives on the way. This child's finding his way as an adult to a kind of redemption and amends-making -- however incomplete -- is the main thrust of the story.
If Murphy's novel suffers from a defect, it is that some of the storytelling seems to have been shaped to fit the HIV/AIDS history, instead of growing organically from the characters. For the most part, though, these maddening characters manage to carry the narrative forward, and Murphy does not fall prey to the need to wrap up all the loose ends.