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Summary

Shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize.

Shortlisted for the Portico Prize

A Guardian Best Book of 2021

A candid examination of the life of North Sea oil riggers, and an explosive portrayal of masculinity, loneliness and female desire. 

In her mid-30s and sprung out of a terrible relationship, Tabitha quit her job at a women’s magazine, left London and put her savings into a six-month lease on a flat in a dodgy neighbourhood in Aberdeen - she was going to make good on a long-deferred idea for a book about oil rigs and the men who work on them. Why oil rigs? 'I wanted to see what men were like, with no women around.'

Sea State is, on the one hand, a portrait of an overlooked industry, and a fascinating subculture in its own right: ‘offshore’ is a way of life for generations of British workers, primarily working-class men. Offshore is also a potent metaphor for a lot of things we might rather keep at bay - class, masculinity, the North-South divide, the transactional nature of desire, the terrible slipperiness of the ladder that could lead us towards (or away from) real security, just out of reach.‎

And Sea State is, too, the story of a journalist whose distance from her subject becomes perilously thin. In Aberdeen, when she’s not researching the book, Tabitha takes pills and dances with a forgotten kind of abandon - reliving her Merseyside youth, when the music was good and the boys were bad. Twenty years on, there is Caden: a married rig worker who spends three weeks on and three weeks off. Alone and increasingly precarious, she dives in deep. The relationship, reckless and explosive, lays them both bare.‎

©2020 Tabitha Lasley (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"These are powerful and moving stories of working lives in a dangerous and all-male environment, made all the more powerful by the way Lasley refuses to absent herself from the telling. The writing is carefully and unobtrusively polished, with hard edges and unflinching clarity, and a memorable turn of phrase. Sea State marks the arrival of a gifted and exciting new voice." (Jon McGregor, author of Reservoir 13)

"It’s extraordinary. It takes you places so few books do...it gets inside the heads that are mostly ignored by publishing." (Observer)

"A startlingly original study of love, masculinity and the cost of a profession that few outside of it can truly understand." (Guardian)

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Too much drilling not much filling!

Can"t help but feel the writer would have got more of a story by going undercover...lots of info about male behaviour when in isolation and plenty of playing away but not really much on working life on a rig

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Fabulous account of dislocated lives

An astonishing work by a dazzling writer. the most alpha male of our 5 male member book club picked it out after reading a guardian interview with the author. we're discussing tomorrow night, the eve of father's day. this will be the perfect soundboard to ruminate on manhood in the modern world. every sentence is sculpted to form the guiding principle shared by the author. Men are like the rocks waves buttress and break away every so often. Solid, yet only recognisable by their cumulative breakdowns and disappointments.

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Clean, vivid and raw

The girl does not tread lightly. But there is a real charm to this unique and spirited book. Interesting observations about class, attraction and the interactions of men and women away from romance. This book feels untouched by soft love. It deals in undercurrents of lust, power and hard reality. It’s easy to listen to, exciting to follow and very funny at times.
The performance was very good, would highly recommend.