Fall on Your Knees
Haunting yet humorous, the story of James Piper and his doomed family encompasses racial tension, poverty, murder, death, incest and more. A family saga spanning generations and travelling from a coal mining community in Cape Breton to Jazz-era Harlem, Fall on Your Knees is a powerhouse of a novel.
Fall on Your Knees won the 1997 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book, and was an Oprah Winfrey Book Club selection. The book was a finalist for Canada Reads 2010, when it was defended by Perdita Felicien.
Here's a picture of the town where they lived. New Waterford. It's a night bright with the moon. Imagine you are looking down from the height of a church steeple, onto the vivid gradations of light and shadow that make the picture. A small mining town near cutaway cliffs that curve over narrow rock beaches below, where the silver sea rolls and rolls, flattering the moon. Not many trees, thin grass. The silhouette of a colliery, iron tower against a slim pewter sky with cables and supports sloping at forty-five-degree angles to the ground. Railway tracks that stretch only a short distance from the base of a gorgeous high slant of glinting coal, towards an archway in the earth where the tracks slope in and down and disappear. And spreading away from the collieries and coal heaps are the peaked roofs of the miners' houses built row on row by the coal company. Company houses. Company town.
From Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald ©1996. Published by Vintage Canada.