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Army of Lovers

Published by Amble Press
an imprint of Bywater Books

"...this is a novel that delivers on literature’s great themes of love and loss..." —San Francisco Chronicle

" incredibly moving and resonant story of love, anger, betrayal, sex, and the fight for equality." 
—Bay Area Reporter

"The first-person storytelling packs a punch." 
—EDGE Media Network

Lambda Literary Award-winner K.M. Soehnlein’s Army of Lovers follows a young gay man swept up in the excitement, fury, and poignancy of the AIDS activist group ACT UP.

Arriving in New York City full of idealism, Paul discovers the queer community gathering strength in the face of government inaction and social stigma. As he protests, parties, and makes a new home, he finds himself pulling away from his HIV-negative boyfriend to pursue an intense bond with a passionate, HIV-positive artist. Paul’s awakening parallels ACT UP’s rise, successes, and controversies. And then everything shifts again, as his family is thrust into their own life-and-death struggle that tests him even further.


Born out of the author’s activism inside the vibrant queer community of the ’80s and ’90s, Army of Lovers blends history and fiction into an exploration of memory, community, love, and justice.


“Our voices roar. We lie on our backs on the floor of the state senate building, twenty-seven of us, arms linked. Our chants reverberate: No More Business as Usual! What Do We Want? Money for AIDS! When Do We Want It? Now!”


“Soehnlein delivers a sprawling portrait of our darkest days, capturing all the anger and heartbreak and heroic love that forged who we are today. If you want to know how it felt, read this.”


“In this vivid novel set in 1980s New York, the stakes could not be higher. While facing down monoliths like the FDA and the Catholic Church, Paul must navigate the ordinary desires, anxieties, and heartbreaks of youth. Drawn from the author’s lived experiences and rich with yearning and tenderness, Army of Lovers is a must-read for anyone searching for agency in an indifferent world. The story of ACT UP remains strikingly relevant today, and K.M. Soehnlein is just the writer to tell it.”


Author of Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana,
and the Stoning of San Francisco

“Just when a moment in history is about to be forgotten, an author comes along to capture its passions and struggles and hope. Soehnlein has performed that magic for readers here. Army of Lovers will become essential reading for years to come. Read it now; be moved, enraptured, emboldened, and reminded what it was like to be young at a turning point in history.”


Pulitzer Prize winning author of Less Is Lost

Army of Lovers comes at a crucial time, when the most devastating years of the AIDS era are sometimes remembered only for their despair and not for the love and action that brought so many changes. An evocative and beautiful book that reminds us of the deepest power of witness — which can help us find our lost ones again through the precious telling of their stories.”


Author of The Consequences

“...his novel is a stunning act of remembering. It’s a visceral re-creation of the sights, sounds, smells, the feel of Manhattan from Wall Street to Times Square in the late 1980s and early ’90s. The bars, parks, restaurants, apartments. Parties and sex parties. The meeting halls where ACT UP New York met. The touch of friends and lovers and comrades, in street actions and crowded jail cells. The taste of ash in your mouth, literal ash, ashes of the dead. ”


Author of The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket

Army of Lovers is astonishing, devastating, a small time-machine made of words, a survivor’s novel, a queer coming-of-age story — collective by necessity and also deeply particular — one perfect tear-stained facet of the kaleidoscopic scene that was ACT UP/Queer Nation in early ‘90s New York. I was there, I knew these people, I wanted it never to end.


Author of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

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