Summary from Goodreads:
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.
|Noopiming is an incredibly interesting and thought-provoking work blending fiction with Anishinaabe storytelling. It feels almost experimental, the way the characters – who are physical manifestations of Mashkawaji* in the modern urban world – interact with one another. All the characters connect with one another in their search for community and a connection to the natural world, even as White Western culture swallows it up and covers it up with roads and garbage. There is a beauty in how unmoored this story feels, with no discernible “plot” – I had to work to put all the pieces together but it was very worth it. I definitely would like to check out more of the author’s work.|
*Mashkawaji is not a god, in the way the Western tradition would define a god-like being, but more a representation of community and tradition held in suspension; they are hard to explain as a character outside of the narrative but when reading their introduction at the beginning of the book that was the feeling I got.
Noopiming is out September 1! (Note: I’m not sure if this date includes the US, since I can’t find any pre-order links at this time, but if this changes I will update.)
Dear FTC: I read a digital galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.