No Crystal Stair
First published in 1997, No Crystal Stair is an absorbing story of urban struggle in the 1940s. Raising her three daughters alone, Marion discovers she can only find gainful employment if she passes as white. Set in the Montreal working class neighbourhood of Little Burgundy against the backdrop of an exciting cosmopolitan jazz scene—home of Oscar Peterson, Oliver Jones, and Rockhead's Paradise—and the tense years of World War II, No Crystal Stair is both a tender story of friendship and community as well as an indictment of Canada's "soft" racism.
In 2005, No Crystal Stair was nominated for Canada Reads and was defended by Olympic fencer Sherraine MacKay. It has been out of print for the past several years and this re-edition is an opportunity to bring a pivotal work of fiction back to Canadian readers.
Born in Montreal in 1925, Mairuth Sarsfield was an author, activist, journalist, researcher and diplomat. She was one of the first Black women appointed to the CBC Board of Directors. She worked for Foreign Affairs at Expo 67 in Montreal and at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan. As senior information officer for the United Nations Environment Program in Nairobi, Kenya, she created the international campaign "For Every Child a Tree." In 1986, Sarsfield received the Chevalier de l'ordre national du Québec. Mairuth Sarsfield died in 2013 at the age of 88.