Phil Clarke

A unique novel

Falling Night is one of the first ever novels about humanitarian aid workers

in a conflict setting

Fiction based on reality

Falling Night is written by a former director

of the international aid agency

Médecins Sans Frontières

Broad reader appeal

Falling Night fills a market gap in literature

allowing ordinary donors to imagine

themselves as aid workers

A unique aid worker novel


Falling Night is a thriller set in the 1990s that portrays the challenges faced by aid workers to deliver assistance to civilians caught up in a fictive African war-zone. Take a literary journey of discovery into a world of conflict, adventure, and complex inner turmoil, told through the lens of a lone individual who is forced to confront extreme evil.

   In spite of the subject matter, this novel depicts minimal violence.

Elevator pitch: An unlikely aid worker encounters a secret genocide in Africa, and must decide if and how to respond in the face of great danger and almost insurmountable obstacles.

Blurb: Alan Swales is no hero and no saint. Bored by a successful, yet dull life in Britain with his girlfriend, Mandy, he decides to become an aid worker in Africa to experience adventure and acquire anecdotes to impress his mates.

   Plunged into a civil war waged by vicious warlords and their child soldiers, Alan has to make unexpected choices about the direction of his life as well as his relationship with Mandy. As the situation deteriorates, he hears rumours of a hidden genocide, which leads him on a dangerous quest for evidence in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles.


Author biographies

Philip Clarke spent most of the 1990s in Africa, both as a humanitarian aid worker and as a tropical forest researcher. He then worked for nine years as an executive director of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), before founding the war crimes investigation agency, Bloodhound.

Falling Night is Phil Clarke’s debut novel, based on actual experiences by the author or his acquaintances in the various wars that took place in Africa during the 1990s, but using fictional characters.


Encountering child soldiers

In Falling Night, the protagonist Alan Swales meets a wide array of people including fellow aid workers, United Nations peacekeepers, journalists, politicians, local human rights activists, warlords, rebel fighters, and child soldiers. The link below is from the start of the fourth Chapter in the 12-chapter novel.

Falling Night avoids presenting the extreme violence that is characteristic of wars, as in reality aid workers receive only limited exposure to this. But the horror and atrocities are never far away...


Resources for media and reviewers

Book cover images

Front cover in hi-res

Front cover in low-res

Full cover (front, rear, and spine)

Author photos

Portrait in mid-res

Portrait with novel

Portrait reading novel


Recognitions & Reviews


Presented at the Cheltenham Christian Arts Festival

April 2023

Prior to its release, Falling Night was presented on Literature Day at the Cheltenham Christian Arts Festival.

Top of Goodreads for Humanitarian Aid

August 2023

Two months after its release, Falling Night became the #1 novel shelved by Goodreads under humanitarian aid.

Top of Amazon's new releases in African Literature

July 2023

One month after its release, Falling Night was for two days #1  on Amazon's hotlist of new releases in African literature.


Reader Comments

Ari Wegter

Goodreads reviewer

A beautifully fictionalized account of the author's own East Africa experiences - you can almost smell the jungle foliage and feel the bullets fly.- Falling Night is as penetrating and confrontational as it is darkly informative.

K. Helm

Amazon reviewer

Falling Night fills a gap in fiction literature by sharing the perspective of a humanitarian worker caught in a terrible political and moral quagmire. It is not a direct memoir and actually takes place in an imaginary African nation - Kugombwala. This context allows the author more freedom to write from the wealth of his experience and to avoid the sensitive ground of presenting a real country in all its complexity, both beautiful and sickening.


Goodreads reviewer

All of the characters are so true to life, like people that you may have met in life before. The smells, sounds and scenes of Africa come alive as you read and one almost feels as if he was there with Alan. It is an eye-opener to true events in our world.

Ang Bell

Goodreads reviewer

Here there are astonishing insights into the worlds of international aid and NGOs, with jaw-dropping details. The book speaks to the politics, the fun, the wonder of aid work, and then finally the carnage that takes place when civil war and strife erupts into the horror of genocide (which takes place offstage). The destruction haunts the protagonist to his very soul. This is a unique, funny, tragic and finally redeeming tale which should be read widely, as a sign of the times.

Steve David

Goodreads reviewer

Wow. I read dozens and dozens of paper backs every year. Phil Clarke is right up there with Bernard Cornwell, Robert Ludlum, Clive Cussler, James Follett, Alexander Fullerton etc etc.

Nik Ripken


Falling Night is startlingly real as it recalls the dangerously shifting sands of tribal alliances, western political agendas, and brutality that have characterised Africa’s recent wars. Shockingly honest, it reveals how hairline cracks in human relationships become insurmountable ravines as they’re tossed into the crucible of life. Yet astoundingly, faith, and love can somehow be grasped where hope goes to die. Humankind at their worse are overshadowed by faith in God and His love.


Selected Blog Review

by Surjit Parekh

My thoughts: Falling Night by Phil Clarke takes readers on a gripping journey through the life of a man who, far from being a hero or a saint, seeks an escape from the monotony of his British existence. The protagonist, Alan Swales, opts for a daring change by becoming an aid worker in war-torn Africa, driven by a thirst for adventure and the desire to accumulate stories that would impress his peers. The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of a brutal civil war, where warlords and their child soldiers wreak havoc. Clarke skillfully paints a vivid picture of the chaos and danger that Alan willingly plunges himself into. The author doesn’t shy away from portraying the harsh realities of conflict, highlighting the brutality faced by those caught in the crossfire. As the story progresses, the focus shifts not only to Alan’s survival in this hostile environment but also to the unexpected choices he must make concerning his own life and his relationship with Mandy, his girlfriend back in Britain. Clarke intricately weaves the complexities of love, personal growth, and the impact of one’s choices into the fabric of a war-torn narrative, adding depth and emotional resonance to the protagonist’s journey. The tension escalates as Alan stumbles upon rumors of a hidden genocide, thrusting him into a perilous quest for evidence. The author masterfully crafts a narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats, navigating through a maze of suspense and danger. The obstacles Alan faces appear insurmountable, intensifying the stakes and drawing readers deeper into the narrative. One of the novel’s strengths lies in its portrayal of the moral dilemmas faced by the characters. Alan’s quest for evidence becomes a moral imperative as he confronts the atrocities unfolding around him. Clarke prompts readers to ponder the consequences of inaction in the face of injustice, making “Falling Night” not only a gripping adventure but also a thought-provoking exploration of human morality. The pacing of the novel is well-executed, with Clarke skillfully balancing action-packed sequences and introspective moments. The character development is robust, and readers witness the transformation of Alan from a seemingly self-centered individual to someone compelled to confront the harsh realities of the world. In conclusion, Falling Night is a compelling work that seamlessly blends elements of adventure, romance, and moral introspection. Writer Phil Clarke delivers a thought-provoking narrative set against the backdrop of a war-ravaged Africa, making it a must-read for those seeking a story that not only entertains but also prompts reflection on the complexities of human nature and the choices we make in the face of adversity. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💥💥💥💥💥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥


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Purchase options

Falling Night is available to bookstores in the UK and Europe from Gardners.

Copies can be purchased online through: /

Barnes & Noble

Waterstones / Foyles