First Fiction Fridays: Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Simpson
November 22, 2013
In her debut collection of short stories, Islands of Decolonial Love, renowned writer and activist Leanne Simpson vividly explores the lives of contemporary Indigenous Peoples and communities, especially those of her own Nishnaabeg nation. Told with voices that are rarely recorded but need to be heard, and incorporating the language and history of her people, Leanne Simpson's Islands of Decolonial Love is a profound, important, and beautiful book of fiction.
Islands of Decolonial Love: Stories and Songs (ARP Books, 2013)
Leanne Simpson is a researcher, writer, and educator of Mississauga and Scottish ancestry. She is a member of the gidigaa bzhiw dodem and a citizen of the Nishnaabeg nation. Leanne holds a PhD from the University of Manitoba and is the past director of Indigenous Environmental Studies at Trent University.
Why you need to read this now:
In her debut collection of short stories, Islands of Decolonial Love, renowned writer and activist Leanne Simpson vividly explores the lives of contemporary Indigenous Peoples and communities, especially those of her own Nishnaabeg nation. Found on reserves, in cities and small towns, in bars and curling rinks, canoes and community centres, doctors offices and pickup trucks, Simpson’s characters confront the often heartbreaking challenge of pairing the desire to live loving and observant lives with a constant struggle to simply survive the historical and ongoing injustices of racism and colonialism. Told with voices that are rarely recorded but need to be heard, and incorporating the language and history of her people, Leanne Simpson’s Islands of Decolonial Love is a profound, important, and beautiful book of fiction.
Leanne teamed up with musicians and artists to record some of her writing as spoken word/musical performances, including Tara Williamson, Nick Ferrio, Sarah DeCarlo, Melody McKiver, Sean Conway, Cris Derksen, A Tribe Called Red, James McKenty (sound engineer at The Narrows recording studio), Harris Newman of Greymarket Mastering, Bonnie Devine, Aaron Mason, and the Aboriginal Arts Program at the OAC. You can stream or download these tracks for free from the ARP Books website. A limited-edition cassette recording will be available at some of Leanne’s live events.
What others are saying about Islands of Decolonial Love:
Canadian First Nations poet and author Lee Maracle had this to say about the book: “wasaeyaban (Anishinaabe)—the first light, just before dawn. I don’t think writers make up stories, stories run around looking for a writer to tell them (if they are any good) otherwise they tend to be trite in the telling. I am glad these stories found the delicate hand and steel-wired beautiful voice of Leanne Simpson to bring them alive. Leanne is a listener and she was fully awake when she listened at dawn to all these stories and committed them to these trees (right, that would be pages, even though pages are really trees) and birthed a marvelous collection of stories (that are also poems) to illuminate the Anishinaabe experience in a way that turns the light on inside the reader—not just any light, but dawn’s first light, the light that counts, the light that stories our very lives, makes us plan something completely different from the sticky mud of same ol’, same ol’. 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, a good citizen—it is going to wake up everything that is brilliant in everyone that reads it.”
Thank you to ARP Books for sharing this new collection with us and giving us an inside look at Leanne in the studio.
Edited from the original post, published on the LPG blog
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