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.
“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
“Precision-engineered European modernism from a master stylist. It walks us into a luminous and loving conversational drama, rich with complex erotics and interwoven private agonies. [Govinden] writes exquisitely about art making, about obsession and responsibility. It's a gorgeous novel.” —Max Porter, author of Grief Is the Thing with Feathers
“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
“Diary of a Film is an achingly intimate novel—tender and wise like Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet through the lens of Luca Guadagnino. Govinden drops us into the fray of an Italian film festival only to reveal a secret garden of quiet and stolen moments with a director whose film is about to premiere. In hotel rooms, abandoned buildings, and in a whisper in front of the international press corps, joy blooms, ideas are born, liberties are taken. Trust holds it all afloat. A stunning meditation on the art of creation and the nature of the artist.” —Saskia Vogel, author of Permission
“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
“A serious, elegant and elegiac novel: an evocative tribute to the lost world of high cinematic glamour and a lament for the artists' struggle towards greatness. When the time comes again, this is the book I'll carry to read during days spent wandering around the grandeur of a city, moving from cafe to cafe, dreaming of the beautiful life.” —Preti Taneja, author of Aftermath