Join us for an evening with Elizabeth O’Connor as she talks about her stunning debut novel Whale Fall, an exquisite coming-of-age story that takes place in a world on the cusp of great change.

It is 1938 and for Manod, a young woman living on a remote island off the coast of Wales, the world looks ready to end just as she is trying to imagine a future for herself. The ominous appearance of a beached whale on the island’s shore, and rumours of submarines circling beneath the waves, have villagers steeling themselves for what’s to come. Empty houses remind them of the men taken by the Great War, and of the difficulty of building a life in the island’s harsh, salt-stung landscape.

When two anthropologists from the mainland arrive, Manod sees in them a rare moment of opportunity to leave the island and discover the life she has been searching for. But, as she guides them across the island’s cliffs, she becomes entangled in their relationship, and her imagined future begins to seem desperately out of reach.

Elizabeth O’Connor’s beautiful, devastating debut Whale Fall tells a story of longing and betrayal set against the backdrop of a world on the edge of great tumult.

We look forward to welcoming Elizabeth to Booka Bridgnorth to celebrate the publication of Whale Fall. Don’t miss this opportunity to see this exciting new talent at the very start of her writing journey!

Eizabeth O’Connor is one of The Observer’s Debut Novelists of 2024 – an annual list of 10 authors with the most exciting first novels. Sally Rooney (Conversations with Friends), Douglas Stuart Shuggie Bain), Louise Kennedy (Trespasses) and Tom Crewe (The New Life) have all previously been featured.


An astonishingly assured debut that straddles many polarities: love and loss, the familiar and the strange, trust and betrayal, land and sea, life and death. O’Connor has created a beguiling and beguiled narrator in Manod: I loved seeing the world through her eyes, and I didn’t want it to end – Maggie O’Farrell, author of Hamnet and The Marriage Portrait

A powerful novel, written with a calm, luminous precision, each feeling rendered with chiselled care, the drama of island life unfolding with piercing emotional accuracy – Colm Tóibín, author of The Magician and Brooklyn

Tickets: £8 without book (Admits One, ticket redeemable against a signed copy Whale Fall) or £15 with book (Admits One, includes a signed copy of Whale Fall).