David France’s insider account of the AIDS epidemic, How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS, has been declared the unanimous winner of the Green Carnation Prize. The Green Carnation Prize honors the best in fiction and memoir by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender writers worldwide.
In a weird reverse of which-came-first media, this story was first told via film in the Oscar-nominated 2012 documentary, “How to Survive a Plague”, which was dedicated to France’s partner Doug Gould. Gould died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1992. Double Emmy-nominee France, an investigative reporter and a chronicler of AIDS since the early 1980’s, used his unparalleled access to the community to share the story of the grassroots movement of activists, many of them facing their own life-or-death struggles, who grabbed the reins of scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection into a manageable disease.
Chair of judges, author John Boyne said, ‘In this time of renewed activism in an increasingly uncertain world, France’s definitive account of the AIDS crisis and the activists who changed the fate of so many lives, seems vital and important to inspire everyone, not just the LGBTQ+ community. We couldn’t be prouder to choose this book as the rightful winner.’
This is the third non-fiction winner in the Prize’s seven-year history. The inaugural award went to Christopher Fowler’s memoir, Paperboy. Last year’s winner was Marlon James for his novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings. You don’t have to be a scientist to find this account of recent history fascinating.