cover image Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies

Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. Univ. of Minnesota, $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5179-1125-6

Canadian writer Simpson (As We Have Always Done) draws on indigenous Abinhinaabeg beliefs to create a bold, affecting portrait of an urban landscape and its network of living beings. Mashkawaji, two years after falling into ice and being frozen, remembers and experiences the world through a sensory connection to people, animals, and plant life in Toronto from her place under the ice. Naantig, a maple tree, is Mashkawaji’s lungs and normally resides in Tommy Thompson Park, but sometimes goes wandering. Adik, a caribou and Mashkawaji’s nervous system, discovers a discarded backpack and buys a digital recorder at Best Buy. Old man Akiwenzii (Mashkawaji’s “will”) putters around in a cluttered house described by the narrator as “bordering on Hoarders,” and Mindomooyenh (Mashkawaji’s conscience), a grandparent, spends their days buying tarps for homeless people. Thirty-something Native Asin (Mashkawaji’s eyes and ears) watches birds and gets frustrated by their friend Lucy’s (Mashkawaji’s brain) periodic disappearances. These characters, most of whom are referred to by gender neutral pronouns, cross paths with each other as they grapple with the often hostile, always shifting world of white people around them. The beautiful, brief episodes culminate in a celebration nearly toppled by the interference of raccoons. The tenderness and sly wit of these snippets coalesce into a beautiful image of Native resilience and a piercing, original novel. (Feb.)