2021 Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction — Finalist
A modern queer tragedy about a pilot's last words, an interrupted celebration, and the fear of losing everything.
“Utterly engrossing. Coen is a hero for our era, darkly struggling amid the aftershocks of loss, but doing so with dignity, humanity, and passion.” — Timothy Taylor, author of The Rule of Stephens
When the airplane piloted by Elias Santos crashes one week before their wedding day, Coen Caraway loses the man he loves and the illusion of happiness he has worked so hard to create. The only thing Elias leaves behind is a recording of his final words, and even Coen is baffled by the cryptic message.
Numb with grief, he takes refuge on the Mexican island that was meant to host their wedding. But as fragments of the past come to the surface in the aftermath of the tragedy, Coen is forced to question everything he thought he knew about Elias and their life together. Beneath his flawed memory lies the truth about Elias — and himself.
From the damp concrete of Vancouver to the spoiled shores of Mexico, After Elias weaves the past with the present to tell a story of doubt, regret, and the fear of losing everything.
Eddy Boudel Tan writes stories that uncover how strange and extraordinary life can be. He thrives while exploring the world, drawing inspiration for his work along the way. He lives in Vancouver.
After Elias promises from the start to be a puzzle. This is no simple mystery, and the layered psychological struggles and revelations kept me furiously turning pages until the very end. With chapters that shift through time along with the narrator's emotions, a cast of very real but relatable secondary characters, and a haunting sense of the past, After Elias gifts the reader with gorgeous, economic prose and the pace of a thriller. I couldn't put it down.
It's rare to find a book that works well as a deeply emotional exploration of grief and as a suspenseful thriller, but After Elias manages this feat.
In his heartfelt and highly engaging debut, Eddy Boudel Tan asks us to stare into the dark waters of one man’s personal tragedy and help make sense of the pieces that wash up onto the shore. At times mysterious and surprising, [After Elias] is a compelling and tightly bound examination of grief, shame, doubt and the darkness that conspires to dissolve our most beloved relationships. A joy to read.
Arresting... [a] deftly crafted novel.
Eddy Boudel Tan has written an immersive, unpredictable, engaging first novel propelled by mystery, softened by tenderness, and enriched with little wisdoms.
Eddy Boudel Tan has crafted a page turner from a set of unlikely ingredients — tragedy, grief, pain and the darker shadows of the human mind. But most of all he has written tenderly, resplendently, about love.
One of the most anticipated LGBTQ books of October 2020
The novel is sad, beautiful, and haunting.
In After Elias, [Eddy Boudel Tan] challenges normative perceptions of grief and healing, he reiterates the harm of keeping secrets, and he advocates the importance of mental health…I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in a psychological rollercoaster.
A truly rare and wonderful book, utterly engrossing throughout. Coen is a hero for our era, darkly struggling amid the aftershocks of loss, but doing so with dignity, humanity, and passion. Tracking Coen’s progress towards answers is a riveting and emotional journey. Watching him in his relationships is a richly rewarding meditation on love, friendship, betrayal and the undying hope for reconciliation.
Intriguing... The novel has plenty of rewards