Leanne Betasamosake Simpson shortlisted for $139K DUBLIN Literary Award

The annual prize recognizes the year's best work of English-language fiction, making it one of the largest prizes of its kind.
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a musician, scholar and fiction writer. (Zahra Siddiqi)

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson's book Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies has made the shortlist for the 2022 DUBLIN Literary Award. 

The annual prize awards €100,000 ($138,928 Cdn) to the year's best work of English-language fiction, making it one of the largest prizes of its kind. The award is sponsored by Dublin City Council. 

Noopiming combines prose and poetry to create an original narrative form, and to reclaim and reframe Anishinaabe storytelling. It's told by Mashkawaji, who is frozen in a lake, and who, in turn, tells the story of seven connected characters in search of a connection to the land and the world.

"For the narrator, the lake is a place of solace. The beginning part of the book gestures toward this trauma that so many of us as Indigenous people have experienced," said Betasamosake Simpson in an interview with Shelagh Rogers on The Next Chapterwhen the book was published in 2020.

"The lake becomes a warm blanket and a safe place to heal, to think, to reconnect. It's not necessarily a feeling of groundedness, but it's still a feeling of being held and of being OK."

Noopiming is Anishinaabemowin for "in the bush," and the title is a response to Susanna Moodie's 1852 memoir about settling in Canada, Roughing It in the Bush. It was a finalist for the 2020 Governor General's Literary Prize for fiction.

"This book is literary art. It's charming, witty, insightful and unforgettable," said the DUBLIN Literary Award judges in their citation.

Betasamosake Simpson is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, activist, musician, artist, author and member of Alderville First Nation in Ontario. Her other books include Islands of Decolonial LoveThis Accident of Being LostDancing on Our Turtle's Back and As We Have Always Done

LISTEN | Leanne Betasamosake Simpson on The Next Chapter

Leanne Betsamosake Simpson talks about her latest novel Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies.

The six books on the shortlist were selected from 79 titles on the longlist. Eight Canadian books made the 2022 longlist including Thomas King's novel, Indians on Vacation.

The shortlist features two translations and a first-time novelist. 

The full shortlist:

"Selecting six titles for this year's DUBLIN Literary Award shortlist from a longlist of 79 is a challenge. I commend our judging panel for presenting us with stories which illustrate the breadth of human thought, endurance and response during tense and challenging moments in life," said Dublin City Librarian Mairead Owens.

"This year's shortlist is an affecting one for readers, encouraging us to experience a sense of other realities."

The jury panel is comprised of Dubliner and writer Sinéad Moriarty, Singaporean poet Alvin Pang, Paris-based professor Clíona Ní Ríordáin, Nigerian writer and scholar Emmanuel Dandaura and Irish journalist Victoria White.

The jury is chaired by Chris Morash, a professor at Trinity College Dublin, who does not vote.

The winner will be revealed on May 19 to open the International Literature Festival Dublin.

Valeria Luiselli's novel Lost Children Archive won the prize in 2021.

Two Canadians have won the prize since its 1996 inception: Alistair MacLeod won in 2001 for No Great Mischief and Rawi Hage won in 2008 for De Niro's Game.