Aaron Foley novel ‘Boys Come First’ praised as ‘smart and steamy’

Author Aaron Foley with his book at the Detroit Book Fest at Eastern Market on July 17.

It’s good when the Wall Street Journal likes your debut novel. It’s even better when the review wonders: “Which will come first: the HBO option or the sequel.”

Potential screen adaptations aren’t worrying Aaron Foley, who’s getting an enthusiastic reception for “Boys Come First,” his fictional look at the friendship among three gay Black men in Detroit.

“I don’t put too much emphasis on that. I’m more happy about the book being out. I’m a writer first,” he says.

Still, when asked about his dream cast, Foley admits that it includes comedian Jerrod Carmichael (HBO’s stand-up special “Rothaniel”) and actor Jelani Alladin (Broadway’s “Frozen” musical), who recently narrated the Audible version of “Boys Come First .”

For a minor role, he has an unexpected suggestion. “I was, like, what local people would be good? For Dominick’s mom, I thought about Carmen Harlan,” he says, referring to the former WDIV-TV news anchor.

Aaron Foley at a book event at A Novel Concept in downtown Lansing for his debut novel,

If that seems extremely Detroit-centric, well, that is fitting for “Boys Come First.” The book is generously dotted with descriptions and mentions of the landmarks, hot spots, popular culture, challenges, tensions and joys of the Motor City — as seen through a millennial lens.

“We are the generation that was old enough for Coleman Young, but now the mayor is white — and I used to work for him,” says Foley, 37, a writer and journalist who relocated from Detroit to New York City a couple of years ago (and whose summary includes being appointed the chief storyteller for the city of Detroit, a job created by Mayor Mike Duggan).

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