In The Shadow of Piper Alpha


In The Shadow of Piper Alpha (First published as The Waves Burn Bright)

Iain Maloney

978­1­913836­16­0 (paperback)

242 pages

167 men died on the Piper Alpha oil platform in 1988. In The Shadow of Piper Alpha is the first novel to explore the devastating aftermath of the disaster.

Marcus is on Piper Alpha that night. His daughter, Carrie, waits at the hospital as helicopters start bringing in survivors, never knowing if her father will be on the next one. Marcus survives, but his post-traumatic stress disorder develops into often violent alcoholism. As the story moves between Marcus and Carrie, between the past and present, their trauma grows and deepens, driving them ever further apart

After decades living abroad, Carrie, now a respected volcanologist, returns to the University of Aberdeen to deliver a controversial academic paper with Marcus in attendance. Will a reconciliation be possible, or has too much time passed? 

‘The characters are well drawn and believable; the tortured survivor, struggling with dreams and the need to blot out memories with the bottle; the child damaged as much by the implosion of her parents’ marriage as the disaster; and the guilt­ ridden mother who has positioned herself outside the close unit of father and daughter but who still wants to revel in Carrie’s achievements. The night of the disaster is sensitively and evocatively handled… Digging through a hard exterior to explore the layers beneath can be a dangerous and explosive exercise, whether that’s the earth’s crust or a human’s weaker shell. In this novel both are explored in equally compelling ways.’ The Scotsman

‘A sensitive and compelling exploration of the experience of trauma for the survivor and for those closest to them.’ ‘A powerful portrayal of how the consequences of such a disruptive event can reverberate through people’s lives for decades afterwards.’ The Herald

‘Not just another, much needed representation of the human costs resulting from the unceasing and capricious chase for profits. It is also one which explores the long-term effects which go on behind the horrible headline of “167 killed”.’ Gregor Gall, Visiting Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Leeds, editor Scottish Left Review

‘A cauldron of a book, bubbling with anger and magma which might at any moment spill over and bring further devastation.’ Linda Cracknell, author of The Other Side of Stone

Iain Maloney is the author of the critically acclaimed The Only Gaijin in the Village (Birlinn, 2020), a memoir about his life in rural Japan. He has also published three novels and a collection of poetry.

In 2013, he was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize and in 2014 he was shortlisted for The Guardian ‘Not The Booker Prize’. He is a freelance editor and journalist, mainly for The Japan Times. 

Iain was born and raised in Aberdeen, Scotland and he currently lives in Japan. He studied English at the University of Aberdeen and graduated from the University of Glasgow’s Creative Writing Masters in 2004.

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