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Recommended by Gayle
‘I can’t tell you how tenderly I – a person who spends much of their time going to the BFI alone – feel about Jeremy Cooper’s Brian, a novel about a man who spends all his time going to the BFI alone. A love letter to the BFI and to London! To small, quiet lives made expansive by access to film and art! To friendship and community!’
From the publisher
Perennially on the outside, Brian has led a solitary life; he works at Camden Council, lunches every day at Il Castelletto café and then returns to his small flat on Kentish Town Road. It is an existence carefully crafted to avoid disturbance and yet Brian yearns for more. A visit one day to the BFI brings film into his life, and Brian introduces a new element to his routine: nightly visits to the cinema on London’s South Bank. Through the works of Yasujirō Ozu, Federico Fellini, Agnès Varda, Yilmaz Güney and others, Brian gains access to a rich cultural landscape outside his own experience, but also achieves his first real moments of belonging, accepted by a curious bunch of amateur film buffs, the small informal group of BFI regulars. A tender meditation on friendship and the importance of community, Brian is also a tangential work of film criticism, one that is not removed from its subject matter, but rather explores with great feeling how art gives meaning to and enriches our lives.
‘I don’t think I’ve ever felt such warmth for a character, or that I’ve been able to see cinema through another’s eyes insuch a lucid, sustained way. As Brian moves further and further into a life of moviegoing, ordering his days, and then years, around it, he finds companionship and a calm sense of wellbeing. As I read this beautifully subtle novel, I found the same.’
— Amina Cain, author of A Horse at Night
‘After having published his luminous Ash Before Oak, Jeremy Cooper now brings us Brian, equally a work of mysterious interiority and poetry. It confirms that however solitary life might be, art enriches both our imaginations and our realities. This is a very tender book.’
— Xiaolu Guo, author of A Lover’s Discourse
‘There’s a strange magic to Jeremy Cooper’s writing. The way he puts words together creates an incantatory effect. Reading him is to be spellbound, then. I have no idea how he does it, only that I am seduced.’
— Ben Myers, author of The Offing
‘Jeremy Cooper’s work is consistently haunting and layered, built on a refreshing trust in the reader to delve deeper behind the quiet insinuations of his prose. His work resists every modern accelerant, creating a patient and precise tonic. He is easily one of the most thoughtful British fiction writers working today.’
— Adam Scovell, author of How Pale the Winter Has Made Us
‘This novel achieves a great deal with its close insistence on the dignity of a quiet life invigorated by the most defamiliarising art form of them all.’
— Jonathan Gharraie, Review 31