On a late summer day along the shores of Nova Scotia, a young woman makes a mistake that will claim her life, while at the other end of the beach her brother, Damian, is unaware that she is drowning. Beginning with this shattering event, Anne Simpson’s mesmerizing novel unfolds in unexpected ways.
A year after the accident, Damian and his mother, Ingrid, travel to Niagara Falls to scatter Lisa’s ashes and to visit Ingrid’s estranged brother, once a famous daredevil of the Falls, now blind, and his mentally disabled son. But old wounds and new misunderstandings soon collide. Damian, burdened by guilt, finds solace in an intense relationship with a girl he first glimpses in a tattoo parlour. A runaway with dreams of New York City, Jasmine has her own reasons for wanting to escape the past. Meanwhile, Ingrid, having reluctantly returned to her childhood home, finds herself at odds with her brother and besieged by memories. As the summer progresses, each of them becomes caught in the pull of the past — until an act of recklessness shocks them into a new course for the future.
In startling, luminous language, Anne Simpson captures both the natural beauty and tawdry eccentricity of Niagara Falls, while evoking the elemental bonds that tie us to the ones we love. By turns uncompromising and heartbreakingly tender, Falling is a riveting story of ordinary people poised on the knife-edge of grief and hope.
With this, her second novel, Anne Simpson proves herself to be one of our most striking and original writers.
Anne Simpson’s first novel, Canterbury Beach, was shortlisted for the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. She is the author of three books of poetry, Light Falls Through You, winner of the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the Atlantic Poetry Prize; Loop, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry; and, most recently, Quick. She has also been shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize. Anne Simpson lives in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
Praise for Falling
“This is a tender and wise novel; a remarkable story of love lost, and then found.”
— David Bergen
“In concise, beautiful language, Anne Simpson’s Falling captures a family in free-fall after tragedy strikes. Against the quiet loveliness of a Nova Scotian landscape, and the endless, brutal roar of Niagara Falls, Simpson’s characters struggle to regain their balance, caught between the poles of acceptance and rage, hope and despair. We fall with them and surface, shaken, transformed. Tough, heartbreaking, astute, this novel confronts our deepest fears, and teaches us how to survive.”
— Beth Powning
“The novel moves forward much like the rushing river that ends up as the tumbling waterfall, unstoppable, a force of nature, like life itself. . . . The novel deserves the highest praise: Simpson has brought together character, plot, language and metaphor with both subtlety and intensity. The result is a potent mix, one that might well result in a Giller award to stand beside her Griffin Prize.”
— National Post
“Simpson's skill is such that the sum total here is far greater than the parts. We don't quite realize the force of what's built up until near the end, when we suddenly find ourselves fully invested in this compelling web of characters.”
— Toronto Star
“Profound and sharply observed. . . . Simpson has the poet’s art of paying close attention to details, which take on added fierceness and luminosity [in this novel]. . . . We see, with increasing admiration and wonder, the forces [her characters] are able draw on, as they tumble through the waterfall, in order to survive.”
— Globe and Mail
“It’s rare to come across a current writer whose characters not only make you think, but are described in such sensual language that the words become as arousing as any visual image.”
— Edmonton Journal
“Beautifully written and engrossing. . . .”
— Winnipeg Sun
“A pleasure to read.” — Montreal Gazette