By George Mackay Brown

Introduction by Ali Smith

Format: Paperback

Greenvoe, the community on the Orkney Island of Hellya, has existed unchanged for generations. George Mackay Brown has recreated a week in its life, mixing history with personality in a sparkling mixture of prose and poetry.

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Birlinn Limited

Birlinn publishes mostly non-fiction books, ranging from biography to history, military history and Scottish interest. Their imprints, Polygon Books, Arena Sport Books and John Donald Books, publish a wide variety of genres including culture, literary fiction, poetry and sports.

Product Description


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.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Paperback
Imprint Birlinn Limited
Publication Date 5 Nov 2004
ISBN 9781904598176
Number of Pages 256

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Press Reviews

"a poetic, distinguished and totally delightful Orcadian story... full of humour and sensitivity and of the unsentimental poetry of raw experience' - Sunday Times"

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