By Niven Govinden
In this highly-lauded novel, a filmmaker meets a woman named Cosima at an Italian espresso bar, spinning a gorgeous tale of love and the creative process.
Publication Date: June 14, 2022
An auteur, together with his lead actors, is at a prestigious European festival to premiere his latest film. Alone one morning at a backstreet café, he strikes up a conversation with a local woman who takes him on a walk to uncover the city's secrets, historic and personal. As the walk unwinds, a story of love and tragedy emerges, and he begins to see the chance meeting as fate. He is entranced, wholly clear in his mind: her story must surely form the basis for his next film. This is a novel about cinema, flâneurs, and queer love — it is about the sometimes troubled, sometimes ecstatic creative process, and the toll it takes on its makers. But it is also a novel about stories, and the persistent question of who has the right to tell them.
Niven Govinden is an award-winning writer of five novels. He was long-listed for the Jhalak Prize, and short-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize (2019) and the Polari Prize (2020) for his most recent novel, This Brutal House, which focuses on the New York ballroom scene of the 1980s.
"This taut, allusive, and illuminating novel explores creativity and receptivity--the processes through which we make art and experience it...A slow fuse leads to a climatic flashpoint, putting all sorts of notions about life and art into fresh perspective." -Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
"These are some lovely paeans to a fading film world...[R]eaders can't help being seduced by the protagonist's commitment to a life of art." -Publishers Weekly
"To read Diary of a Film, Niven Govinden's splendid and heartfelt new novel, is by necessity to recall another splendid and heartfelt novel, William Maxwell's The Folded Leaf...To simply outline its trajectory is to give short shrift to the alchemy by which Govinden, the author of five previous novels, so utterly occupies his narrator's mind...[O]ne of its many pleasures is its arresting and authoritative rendering of Maestro's cinematic eye and of the particulars of film festival premieres, with their regimen of photo ops, news conferences, and screenings." -David Leavitt of The New York Times
“What a pleasure it is to read this love letter to art and to human connection (fragile, powerful, transforming).” —Deborah Levy, New Statesman
“Niven's prose is intoxicating.” —Cosmopolitan
“Elegant . . . In a strong, clear tone that's unfettered by hyperbole, Govinden allows us access to the narrator's mind as he muses on love, work and who should tell whose stories.” —Monocle
“A book about the dysfunctions of grief and about what rights the artist has to take liberties with somebody else's story. Gorgeously written, Diary of a Film is a book quite ripe, fittingly, for film adaptation.” —The Literary Review