ABOUT THIS BOOK
PUBLICATION DATE: June 30, 2004
By (author) George Mackay Brown; Introduction by Ali Smith
Greenvoe, the tight-knit community on the Orcadian island of Hellya, has existed unchanged for generations. However, a sinister military/industrial project, Operation Black Star, requires the island for unspecified purposes and threatens the islanders’ way of life. In this, his first novel (1972), George MacKay Brown recreates a week in the life of the island community as they come to terms with the destructiveness of Operation Black Star. A whole host of characters – The Skarf, failed fishermen and Marxist historian; Ivan Westray, boatman and dallier; pious creeler Samuel Whaness; drunken fishermen Bert Kerston; earth-mother Alice Voar, and meths-drinker Timmy Folster – are vividly brought to life in this sparkling mixture of prose and poetry. In the end Operation Black Star fails, but not before it has ruined the island. But the book ends on a note of hope as the islanders return to celebrate the ritual rebirth of Hellya.
George Mackay Brown
George Mackay Brown is one of the major Scottish literary figures of the twentieth century. A prolific poet and novelist, he took much of his inspiration from the myths and landscape of Orkney, and also from his deep Catholic faith. His collection of short stories A Time to Keep (1971) won the Katherine Mansfield Mentor short story prize and his novel Beside the Ocean of Time was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1994. He died in 1996.