Ash Before Oak

A Stunning Investigation of the Fragility, Beauty and Strangeness of Life.

ASH BEFORE OAK, the winner of the inaugural Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize, is written in the form of a journal written by a solitary man on a secluded Somerset estate. Ostensibly a nature diary, chronicling the narrator’s interest in the local flora and fauna and the passing of the seasons, ASH BEFORE OAK is also the story of a breakdown told slantwise, and of the narrator’s subsequent recovery through his reengagement with the world around him. The title derives from an old country rhyme forecasting rain. Written in prose that is as precise as it is beautiful, Jeremy Cooper’s first novel in over a decade is a stunning investigation of the fragility, beauty and strangeness of life.


»Sebald is undoubtedly an influence on the technique and structure of ASH BEFORE OAK with its mixture of deep, despondent reflection and unexpected historic details.«
Irish Times

»Beautiful fictional memoir of a bittersweet rural life.«
The Times

»Very moving, beautiful and so thoughtful too – a wonderful evocation of animals and birds, sky and Somerset.«
Kate Mosse

»Low-key and understated, this beautiful book, from the excellent small publisher Fitzcarraldo, 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.«
The Sunday Times

»The more you read, the more you want to read. The narrator finds a strange, steady rhythm, and the narrative gently builds to a very moving ending.«
Buzz Magazine

Original Language

English, Fitzcarraldo Editions

Available Material

English pdf


on behalf of Fitzcarraldo Editions
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Jeremy Cooper

Jeremy Cooper is a writer, journalist, and broadcaster who has written and published widely on art and antiques. He has recently given to the British Museum an important collection of artists’ postcards; his book on the subject, 'The World Exists to be Put on a Postcard', is published by Thames & Hudson. Jeremy Cooper has appeared regularly on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, was co-presenter of Radio 4’s The Week’s Antiques, and is the author of four novels and a number works of non-fiction on art and design.