Nominated by:

LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library System, Tallahassee, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Algonquin Books, USA

When the English Fall

David Williams      

‘There are shots now and again, bursts here and there, far away, and I cannot sleep. I think of this man in his hunger, shot like a rabbit raiding a garden. For what, Lord? For stealing corn intended for pigs and cattle, like the hungry prodigal helpless in a strange land.I can hear his voice’.

When a catastrophic solar storm brings about the collapse of modern civilisation, an Amish community is caught up in the devastating aftermath. With their stocked larders and stores of supplies, the Amish are unaffected at first. But as the English (the Amish name for all non-Amish people) in the cities become increasingly desperate, they begin to invade nearby farms, taking whatever they want and unleashing unthinkable violence on the gentle communities.

Written as the diary of an Amish farmer named Jacob who tries to protect his family and his way of life, When the English Fall examines the idea of peace in the face of deadly chaos. Should members of a nonviolent society defy their beliefs and take up arms to defend themselves? And if they do, can they survive?

David Williams’s debut novel is a thoroughly engrossing look into the closed world of the Amish, as well as a thought-provoking examination of how we live today and what remains if the centre cannot hold.

About the author

David Williams, a pastor in the Presbyterian Church, lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons. His stories and articles have appeared in publications as diverse as Omni, Christian Century, and Wired. He is the author of one previous book, The Believer’s Guide to the Multiverse. When the English Fall is his first novel.

Librarian’s comments

David Williams’ post-apocalyptic novel When the English Fall, told through the diary of a self-sufficient Amish farmer, explores the moral quandary of sharing without depriving loved ones of resources, and protecting when violence is abhorrent. I enjoyed this novel because the author used simple, graceful language to tell an exciting and original story of this genre.

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