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The Painter's Friend

by Howard Cunnell

Hardback $39.99

$39.99

$39.99

‘I loved it. Cunnell’s writing has an unforgettable visual and moral clarity’ – Melissa Harrison, author of All Among the Barley

‘His finest and most important work to date’ – Cathi Unsworth, author of Weirdo

The painter Terry Godden was on the brink of his first success. After a violent crisis, he finds himself outcast.

In his fifties, and with little money, he retreats to a small island. Arriving in the winter, the island at first seems a desolate and forgotten place. As the seasons turn, Terry begins to see the island’s beauty, and discovers that he is only one of many people who have sought refuge here. These independent outsiders, all with their own considerable struggles, have made a precarious home.

The island is owned by the business man and art collector Alex Kaplan. His decision to enforce a rent increase as he seeks to improve his property looks set to destroy this community that cannot afford to lose the little they have left. As an artist, Terry believes making the invisible struggles of the island visible to the world will help – but will his interference save anybody other than himself?

The Painter’s Friend shows the human cost of gentrification for those dispossessed. The novel also explores the role of art in protest, and asks who gets to be an artist and what they owe in return. Written with visual lyricism and driven clarity, Howard Cunnell’s incendiary story about class and resistance builds to an unforgettable climax. It is an urgent novel for our unjust times.

Book Information

  • ISBN: 9781529030921
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pub Date: 26/11/2021
  • Category: United Kingdom, Great Britain
    Fiction & related items / Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
    Society & social sciences / Demonstrations & protest movements
  • Imprint: Picador
  • Pages: 288
  • Price: $39.99

‘I loved it. Cunnell’s writing has an unforgettable visual and moral clarity’ – Melissa Harrison, author of All Among the Barley

‘His finest and most important work to date’ – Cathi Unsworth, author of Weirdo

The painter Terry Godden was on the brink of his first success. After a violent crisis, he finds himself outcast.

In his fifties, and with little money, he retreats to a small island. Arriving in the winter, the island at first seems a desolate and forgotten place. As the seasons turn, Terry begins to see the island’s beauty, and discovers that he is only one of many people who have sought refuge here. These independent outsiders, all with their own considerable struggles, have made a precarious home.

The island is owned by the business man and art collector Alex Kaplan. His decision to enforce a rent increase as he seeks to improve his property looks set to destroy this community that cannot afford to lose the little they have left. As an artist, Terry believes making the invisible struggles of the island visible to the world will help – but will his interference save anybody other than himself?

The Painter’s Friend shows the human cost of gentrification for those dispossessed. The novel also explores the role of art in protest, and asks who gets to be an artist and what they owe in return. Written with visual lyricism and driven clarity, Howard Cunnell’s incendiary story about class and resistance builds to an unforgettable climax. It is an urgent novel for our unjust times.

Author Information

Howard Cunnell’s acclaimed memoir Fathers and Sons was read on BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week, and described as ‘unique, and uniquely beautiful’ (Financial Times); it explores his experiences as a fatherless man raising a transgender son. His novel The Sea on Fire ‘maps new noir territory in an incandescent underwater world’ (Guardian), and draws from Cunnell’s life as a dive guide and scuba instructor. He is the contributing editor of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road: The Original Scroll, which the New York Times called ‘the living version for our time’. He lives in Sussex.

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