A Writer's Journal

Alan's haunting novel of the AIDS epidemic, As If Death Summoned, was released on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2020, and has won the Foreword INDIES LGBT Book of the Year Award. Watch the book trailer here. Read the reviews here.

Bywater Books has announced that its novel, As If Death Summoned by Alan E. Rose, was named a winner in the 22nd annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards.

Rose’s haunting novel about the AIDS epidemic won the gold award in the LGBT category. Foreword Reviews editors cited it, writing: “As heartwarming and hope-giving as it is heartbreaking, As If Death Summoned showcases the best and worst aspects of the fight against HIV.”

The novel was released on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2020, by Amble Press, an imprint of Bywater Books.

The news came as a total surprise to Rose, who lives in north Clark County in Washington state. “I was surprised and pleased when the book was named a finalist in spring, but I never thought I had a chance of actually winning,” said Rose.

Since 1998, Foreword Reviews, a book review journal focusing on independently published books, recognizes the best books published during the past year by small, independent, and university presses.

Rose had wanted to write the book ever since the 1990s. “I promised myself that I would someday tell the stories of what happened here, what I witnessed in the midst of a modern plague,” he said from his home in the Lewis River Valley. “Not just the premature deaths and suffering, but also all the incredible kindness and courage and compassion I witnessed. And the humor, death-defying humor in the face of death.”

Unique among AIDS novels, As If Death Summoned is written from the point of view of staff at a community AIDS organization in the 1980s and ‘90s. Rose worked at Cascade AIDS Project in Portland, Oregon, from 1993 to 1999, when he came to Longview as the director of Community Services for the Lower Columbia Community Action Program.

Also, whereas much of the AIDS literature is written about the epidemic in its epicenters of New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Rose’s novel takes place in Oregon. “The epidemic was in small cities and rural communities, too,” said Rose. “We had our stories, too.”

For this year’s competition, more than 2,100 entries were submitted in various categories, with Foreword’s editors choosing the finalists. Those titles were then mailed to librarians and booksellers charged with picking the Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable Mention winners.

 “Covid-19 changed the world,” said Editor in Chief Michelle Anne Schingler. “And the INDIES were no exception. While we ordinarily meet in person to vet the thousands of entrants and determine finalists, this year, we had to read books independently, and to come together afterward and discuss our impressions. What we discovered was heartening: we were in agreement about finalists, even when encountering books miles and days apart. We are happy to declare these books the best of the best that we saw.”

With the news of his award, Rose said it wasn’t celebration he felt so much as “a quiet peace. That I had kept my word. That I fulfilled my promise.”


First posted: July 11, 2021


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