Jeremy Cooper

French paperback with flaps, 184 pages
Published 24 May 2023

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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.

Prospect Books of the Year 2023

‘Easily the best novel I’ve read this decade.’
— Olivia Laing, Guardian

Brian is affecting, funny and, at 184 pages, a skilfully compressed chronicle of one man’s life and the cornucopia of film that enriches it.’ 
— Max Liu, Financial Times

‘[The] novel’s celebration of ordinariness and anonymity … it’s a quiet and even melancholic vision …Cooper gives us chronology without event, people without relationships, art without identification, agglomeration without purpose. And so we are forced to focus on what’s left – the structure of a life story, mediated through art, but not redeemed by it.’
Clair Wills, New York Review of Books

‘What makes Jeremy Cooper’s seventh novel appealing and convincing is the author’s serene prose and tender, understated empathy…. This is an affectionate, thoughtful portrait of a gentle soul.’
— David Collard, Times Literary Supplement

‘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 in such 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

‘A novel of simmering cinephilia…. Told in close third person, Brian unfolds neutrally and with little at stake, the frictionless description of the extremely circumscribed life of its protagonist often segueing to plot synopses and analyses of the scores of movies he takes in.’
Melissa Anderson, Bookforum

‘Every city has its Brians. Every cinema has its Brians. Still, in his looping disassociation, Cooper’s Brian recalls not just Bartleby … and Prufrock … but also a particularly English lineage of introverts and isolates.’
Sukhdev Sandhu, 4 Columns

‘Somewhere between a novel and a work of film criticism, Cooper’s book is a celebration of the amateur enthusiast, and a reminder of why we all need art in our lives.’
— Lucy Scholes, Prospect Books of the Year

Praise for Bolt From the Blue

‘A novel in epistolary form, the writer and art historian’s latest work is both an intimate account of a mother-daughter relationship and a lively history of London’s art scene. It is October 1985 when Lynn moves to the capital to study at Saint Martin’s, later making a successful career as an artist. She and her mother, who is back at home in Birmingham, begin a 30-year-long written relationship – via letters, postcards and emails. Their contact is irregular, and by turns affectionate and combative, making the relationship feel engrossing, deep and utterly true.’
— New Statesman

Praise for Ash before Oak

‘Low-key and understated, this beautiful book … is a civilised and melancholy document that slowly progresses towards a sense of enduring, going onwards, and even new life. It feels like a healing experience.’
— Phil Baker, Sunday Times

Jeremy Cooper is a writer and art historian, author of six previous novels and several works of non-fiction, including the standard work on nineteenth century furniture, studies of young British artists in the 1990s, and, in 2019, the British Museum’s catalogue of artists’ postcards. Early on he appeared in the first twenty-four of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow and, in 2018, won the first Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize for Ash before Oak.