Award-winning Nishnaabeg storyteller and writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson returns with a bold reimagination of the novel, one that combines narrative and poetic fragments through a careful and fierce reclamation of Anishinaabe aesthetics.
Mashkawaji (they/them) lies frozen in the ice, remembering a long-ago time of hopeless connection and now finding freedom and solace in isolated suspension. They introduce us to the seven main characters: Akiwenzii, the old man who represents the narrator’s will; Ninaatig, the maple tree who represents their lungs; Mindimooyenh, the old woman who represents their conscience; Sabe, the giant who represents their marrow; Adik, the caribou who represents their nervous system; Asin, the human who represents their eyes and ears; and Lucy, the human who represents their brain. Each attempts to commune with the unnatural urban-settler world, a world of SpongeBob Band-Aids, Ziploc baggies, Fjällräven Kånken backpacks, and coffee mugs emblazoned with institutional logos. And each searches out the natural world, only to discover those pockets that still exist are owned, contained, counted, and consumed. Cut off from nature, the characters are cut off from their natural selves.
Noopiming is Anishinaabemowin for “in the bush,” and the title is a response to English Canadian settler and author Susanna Moodie’s 1852 memoir Roughing It in the Bush. To read Simpson’s work is an act of decolonization, degentrification, and willful resistance to the perpetuation and dissemination of centuries-old colonial myth-making. It is a lived experience. It is a breaking open of the self to a world alive with people, animals, ancestors, and spirits, who are all busy with the daily labours of healing — healing not only themselves, but their individual pieces of the network, of the web that connects them all together. Enter and be changed.
LEANNE BETASAMOSAKE SIMPSON is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg writer, scholar, and musician, and a member of Alderville First Nation. She is the author of five previous books, including This Accident of Being Lost, which won the MacEwan Book of the Year and the Peterborough Arts Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Indigenous Author; was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Trillium Book Award; was longlisted for CBC Canada Reads; and was named a best book of the year by the Globe and Mail, National Post, and Quill & Quire. She has released two albums, including f(l)ight, which is a companion piece to This Accident of Being Lost.
PRAISE FOR LEANNE BETASAMOSAKE SIMPSON AND NOOPIMING
A Globe And Mail Top 100 Book of the Year
“This brilliant novel is a carefully curated mix of prose and poetry, though the narrative and poetic form never leaves either; at all times, there is a deliberate attention to rhythm, movement, and sound. The layered storytelling is rich with wry and undeniable humour and introduces readers to an incredible cast of characters, giving us the perspective of Elders, Indigenous youth, raccoons, geese, and trees, braiding together past, present, and future and intentionally centring Nishnaabe life and practices … This is the beauty and masterful work of this novel: it holds something for every Indigenous person. It’s a gift that feels specifically for us.” — Globe and Mail
“Noopiming is a rare parcel of beauty and power, at once a creator and destroyer of forms. All of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s myriad literary gifts shine here — her scalpel-sharp humour, her eye for the smallest human details, the prodigious scope of her imaginative and poetic generosity. The result is a book at once fierce, uproarious, heartbreaking, and, throughout and above all else, rooted in love.” — Omar El Akkad, bestselling author of American War
“Noopiming is a novel that is as philosophically generative as it is stylistically original. It begins with someone who is frozen in a lake, waiting, and from whom we learn that: ‘being frozen in the lake is another kind of life.’ Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s expansive work explores the indivisibility of beings — old woman, old man, tree, caribou, stone, ice, spirit, geese, the brain, and more, all watching, grieving, thinking, acting, and listening amidst the ongoing and quotidian urgencies of capital. They are sleepless, ceaseless, trying to alter and to recode the world of consumerism, and their survival means that they must daily and collectively reconstruct existence in the city and its coterminous forests. Noopiming is far ahead of us in so many registers of story, language, and worldview; its cumulative effect is a new cosmography.” — Dionne Brand, award-winning author of Theory
“This imaginative book is what would happen if we gave pen and paper to the deepest, most secretive parts of ourselves. Down to the fibres, down to each breath, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson dares to not only explore the humanity of a character, but the humanity of the parts that make us whole, in a world running on empty.” — Catherine Hernandez, bestselling author of Scarborough
“Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s Noopiming once again confirms her position as a brilliant, daring experimentalist and a beautiful, radical portraitist of contemporary NDN life. The prose hums with a lovingness that moved me to tears and with a humour that felt plucked right out of my rez adolescence. The chorus of thinkers, dreamers, revolutionaries, poets, and misfits that Simpson conjures here feels like a miracle. My heart ached and swelled for all of them. What I adored most about this book is that it has so little to do with the white gaze. Simpson writes for us, for NDNs, those made to make other kinds of beauty, to build other kinds of beautiful lives, where no one is looking. Noopiming is a book from the future! Simpson is our much-needed historian of the future!” — Billy-Ray Belcourt, award-winning author of This Wound is a World and NDN Coping Mechanisms
“How is it that Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s fiction can feel both familiar and warm like old teachings and absolutely fresh and brand new? Is it even fiction? Noopiming seems to exist somewhere in the in-between, with all the best parts of poetry and story. As always, I am in awe of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, prolific in every way.” — Katherena Vermette, bestselling author of The Break
“I’m pretty sure we don’t deserve Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. But miracles happen, and this is one. This book is poem, novel, prophecy, handbook, and side-eyed critique all at once. This book doesn’t only present characters you will love and never want to leave (but yes, it does), it doesn’t only transform the function of character and plot into a visibly collective dynamic energy field (and hallelujah), but it also cultivates character in the reader, that we might remember what we first knew. Which is that what seems separate was never separate. What feels impossible is already happening. And it depends on our most loving words. It requires our most loving actions towards each other. The ceremony has been found.” — Alexis Pauline Gumbs, author of Dub: Finding Ceremony
“[Noopiming] presses readers — Indigenous and settler alike — to consider the novel form as a wider venue for storytelling than it is traditionally conceived … Language is thrilling in all of Simpson’s work, and nowhere more so than in this newest offering … Simpson’s writing is at once political and loud, honest and whisper-quiet … This novel will be reread for its many truths and teachings and for its undeniable power. The complicated questions Noopiming poses are worth revisiting, and the novel’s wisdom will continue to grow as the reader does.” — Quill & Quire, STARRED REVIEW
“Taking traditional Anishinaabe teachings and weaving them through contemporary forms of understanding, Simpson brings the reader into not a new world, but a world already existing, one that breaks through the colonial bars that try to cage it.” — Rabble.ca
PRAISE FOR LEANNE BETASAMOSAKE SIMPSON AND THIS ACCIDENT OF BEING LOST
Finalist, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
Finalist, Trillium Book Award
A Globe And Mail Top 100 Book of the Year
A National Post 99 Best Book of the Year
“Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a poet who strides through multiple realms. In This Accident of Being Lost, she carries the reader along with her urgent, direct address . . . It is the uneasiness and emotional uncertainty of her characters that makes the book strangely addictive. I was stunned by Simpson’s generosity in sharing these experiences and inviting us to be challenged and to be lost. I welcomed having my assumptions about urban Indigenous people upended, and this is accomplished with the nourishing humour, wisdom, and poetic, loose-limbed lines that have been sewn through the stories.” — Globe and Mail
“A testament to the power of connection, This Accident of Being Lost is by turns poignant, funny, fiercely angry, and deeply sad . . . Remarkable.” — Toronto Star
“[Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s] storytelling philosophy is full of humour, truth, beauty, and love — and is always political. Decolonizing moments live within every song and story found in This Accident of Being Lost.” — Arc Poetry Magazine
“A powerful collection of short stories and songs . . . [Leanne Betasamosake Simpson] is quickly becoming known as one of the country’s greatest storytellers. Unique in its fragmented and casual, yet lyrical and elegant language . . . This Accident of Being Lost forces readers to look at Canada differently.” — This Magazine
“Simpson deftly moves through and combines Nishnaabeg stories, the realities of indigeneity, and fantastical spaces . . . This [is an] exceptionally affecting work.” — Muskrat Magazine
“This is groundbreaking and powerful . . . Simpson is an unapologetic resistor of the colonial state, she creates a world where ordinary fears sit together with acts of defiance against racism and cultural fragmentation . . . One of Simpson’s more significant contributions to Indigenous literature.” — Winnipeg Review
“A finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, this collection of stories, poems, and songs from a major Indigenous voice is a demonstration of the different ways an idea can manifest.” — National Post
“A stunning collection of poetry, song, and short fiction. These short pieces are darkly humorous, elegantly constructed, and beautifully sorrowful . . . The stories are not bleak, and a wry sense of humour glimmers throughout, walking hand in hand with damaged humanity to create a gentleness that combats the sometimes grim subject matter . . . This is a truly creative and heartfelt work, thoroughly modern in tone and timbre.” — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s genre-defying This Accident of Being Lost is like no other book you will ever read in your life. In a luminous interweaving of Nishnaabeg storytelling, narrative, and poetry, she constructs linked fragments in which the natural world threads through a sharp urban realm and both the sacred and profane coexist. Her intimate fictions are populated with diverse characters — a mother and child at a city ballet, lovers in a sacred boreal forest, a woman attending a firearms training course. Visionary in scope, Simpson creates decolonialized realities where the routine of day-to-day life is alive with ceremony and illumination. These are shimmering stories etched with humour, anger, and above all, love and kindness.” — Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Jury Citation
“The raw energy contained within these pieces gives this book flight. And what a flight! Within its energetic arcs the reader encounters anger and love and devotion and regret. Combining stories and poems, sharp realism and Nishnaabeg legend, This Accident of Being Lost displays an extraordinary blend of humour and political truth-telling. Fiercely angry at one moment, lyrically loving in the next, Simpson introduces us to people whose honesty, humour, and passion unsettles and endears.” — Trillium Book Award Jury Citation
“Playful, pissed off, and ferociously funny, Leanne Simpson writes irresistible love stories in the jaws of genocide. A genius shape-shifter and defiant genre-detonator, there is quite simply no one like her.” — Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The (Burning) Case for a New Green Deal
“Blending song and story, humour and truth, This Accident of Being Lost feels so intimate and so familiar. It is the story of our sisters, cousins, and friends. I love this book. Simpson is a master lyricist, captivating storyteller, and a true gift to us all.” — Katherena Vermette, author of The Break
“Leanne is a gifted writer who brings passion and commitment to her storytelling and who has demonstrated an uncommon ability to manage an impressive range of genres from traditional storytelling to critical analysis, from poetry to spoken word, from literary and social activism to songwriting. She is, in my opinion, one of the more articulate and engaged voices of her generation.” — Thomas King, author of Green Grass, Running Water and The Inconvenient Indian
PRAISE FOR LEANNE BETASAMOSAKE SIMPSON AND ISLANDS OF DECOLONIAL LOVE
“A dazzling collection of stories of beauty and resilience, fiercely illustrating how Indigenous communities continue to grow.” —Globe and Mail
“Well-written, poetic prose has special power — and the pages of Islands of Decolonial Love read like a salve for wounds from colonial hurts.” — CBC News
“Islands of Decolonial Love is the sort of book I have been looking for all my life — the kind of book that is going to make me a good writer, a good listener, and a good citizen — it is going to wake up everything that is brilliant in everyone that reads it.” — Lee Maracle, author of Ravensong and Celia’s Song
“How many lives, Leanne Simpson, have you lived to create this most incredible collection? Astounding storytelling. Wondrous prose. Islands of Decolonial Love is a constellation of galaxies that I never want to leave. Wow!” — Richard Van Camp
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