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The Black Eden

Richard T. Kelly

When oil is found of the North Sea, Britain changes forever – and with it the destinies of five very different men.

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‘Action-packed and panoramic.’ Observer
‘Magnificent . . . there won’t be a finer piece of Scottish fiction published this year.’ Big Issue
‘A galloping and impressively wide-ranging read.’ Herald (Scotland)
‘Gripping.’ Times Literary Supplement

1956, the Scottish Highlands: Aaron and Robbie, a schoolmaster’s son and a farmer’s boy, are fast friends with a shared passion for diving, but very divergent ideas of what they will do with their lives.

Meanwhile, Mark and Ally, bright pupils at Edinburgh’s grandest private school, are aspiring to make change in the world – one through high finance, the other on the political stage.

And Joseph, heir to an Aberdeen trawler-fishing dynasty, is brooding over whether his true ambitions are set higher than his father’s succession plan.

For each of them, the discovery of oil under the North Sea will make their dreams achievable. But behind the promise and temptation of ‘black gold,’ there is a price to be paid; and they will discover that oil can overthrow relationships, turn friends into foes, and even put lives in peril.

Critic Reviews

Wonderfully evocative and atmospheric.

William Boyd
Critic Reviews

Magnificent … Though Kelly’s novel ends in 1982, it is so much more than a historical work. It is also a map of today’s Scotland, a foundation myth for a disputatious, unsettled 21st century nation: wealth and ambition versus community and compassion, progress versus stasis, independence versus union … [Kelly] explores what has been gained and what has been lost for good with a light touch and delivers a rewarding and affecting page-turner. There won’t be a finer piece of Scottish fiction published this year.

Big Issue
Critic Reviews

'Panoptic, compassionate . . . there are descriptions that stop you in your tracks . . . an engrossing account of this country’s own oil boom and the brave men and women who worked to make it possible; a chapter of history that fiction has hitherto neglected.'

Jude Cook, Guardian
Critic Reviews

I loved it — this book cares about its characters and, while writing about a careless industry, never has less than a proper artisan’s care for craftsmanship. . . Engrossing and widescreen, this book feels like watching a really good BBC1 drama of the kind that they don’t make any more.

Jenny Colgan, Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

An assured, deeply researched novel … compelling in its depiction of youthful ambition.

Rory Kiberd, Irish Times
Critic Reviews

A gripping new novel … in Kelly’s hands, the unfolding of the hunt for oil off the Scottish coast takes on the momentum of a thriller … a galloping and impressively wide-ranging read.

Rosemary Goring, Herald (Scotland)
Richard T.Kelly

Richard T. Kelly is the author of the novels, Crusaders (2008), The Possessions of Doctor Forrest (2011) and The Knives (2016). His fourth novel, The Black Eden, is published by Faber in 2023. His non-fiction publications include Alan Clarke (1998), Sean Penn: His Life and Times (2004), and Keegan & Dalglish (2017). Previously a senior editor for a number of…

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Richard T.Kelly
Author Richard T Kelly
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