Whale Fall: A Novel

Whale Fall: A Novel

by Elizabeth O'Connor
Whale Fall: A Novel

Whale Fall: A Novel

by Elizabeth O'Connor

Hardcover

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Overview

A stunning debut from an award-winning writer, about loss, isolation, folklore, and the joy and dissonance of finding oneself by exploring life outside one’s community

“Both blunt and exquisite . . . O’Connor’s excellent debut . . . is an example of precisely observed writing that makes a character’s specific existence glimmer with verisimilitude.”—New York Times Book Review


In 1938, a dead whale washes up on the shores of remote Welsh island. For Manod, who has spent her whole life on the island, it feels like both a portent of doom and a symbol of what may lie beyond the island's shores. A young woman living with her father and her sister (to whom she has reluctantly but devotedly become a mother following the death of their own mother years prior), Manod can't shake her welling desire to explore life beyond the beautiful yet blisteringly harsh islands that her hardscrabble family has called home for generations.

The arrival of two English ethnographers who hope to study the island culture, then, feels like a boon to her—both a glimpse of life outside her community and a means of escape. The longer the ethnographers stay, the more she feels herself pulled towards them, reckoning with a sensual awakening inside herself, despite her misgivings that her community is being misconstrued and exoticized.

With shimmering prose tempered by sharp wit, Whale Fall tells the story of what happens when one person's ambitions threaten the fabric of a community, and what can happen when they are realized. O'Connor paints a portrait of a community and a woman on the precipice, forced to confront an outside world that seems to be closing in on them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593700914
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/07/2024
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 25,721
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 5.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

ELIZABETH O'CONNOR lives in Birmingham. Her short stories have appeared in The White Review and Granta, and she was the 2020 winner of the White Review Short Story Prize. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Birmingham, specializing in the modernist writer H.D. and her writing of coastal landscapes.
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