Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies
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.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
Noopiming: a Cure for White Women by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a beautiful and important story about Indigenous life in the urban settler world, colonialism, climate change and connection. This is a challenging book, both in content and form, that presents timely and vital topics in a way that defies the reader’s expectations of how to read a novel. Simpson sketches out a cast of characters with deft, spare strokes—her confidence and control of language is exemplified in the minimalism of her prose. Noopiming is otherworldly, serious and often funny; this is a book that will break your heart and make you think. Ottawa Public Library, Canada