Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson

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70,000 words
Manuscript available September 2020


Canada: Doubleday, August 2021


Lisa Bird-Wilson (Photo: Julie Cortens)
(Photo: Julie Cortens)

Lisa Bird-Wilson is a Saskatchewan Métis and nêhiyaw (Cree) writer whose work has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies across Canada. Her story collection, Just Pretending (Coteau Books, 2013), was a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award; won four Saskatchewan Book Awards, including 2014 Book of the Year, and was the 2019 One Book, One Province selection for Saskatchewan. It is taught in universities, and now she has the rights to it back too. Bird-Wilson’s debut poetry collection, The Red Files (Nightwood Editions, 2016), is inspired by family and archival sources and reflects on the legacy of the residential school system and the fragmentation of families and histories. Lisa Bird-Wilson lives in Saskatoon.

Probably Ruby

a novel by Lisa Bird-Wilson


She used to make up stories for her children. About kohkums and moshoms they never knew. About cousins and aunties and grandparents they never met. She put up pictures. Fabricated a family. Blew air onto the embers of their imaginations. All so she could save her kids from the longing that had plagued her her entire life. She made miskâsowin, belonging, out of words and only memories—blood memories. Created roots in an attempt to dream herself back together, to quell the yearning she felt in her very blood.

Given up as an infant and placed in a foster home, so begins Ruby’s life-long identity crisis as she searches for her Indigenous identity. To find her unknown roots, Ruby is willing to go to the most destructive of places. All to answer the question of whether or not she is still probably Ruby.



Ruby's Relationship Map Artwork by Tanner Wilson
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Ruby Relationship Web Artwork



“It’s a brilliant piece that takes Indigenous literature in some fascinating new directions. Lisa is an extraordinary stylist, and this novel explores Indigenous women’s lives in a way that is empowering and that doesn’t follow the usual tropes of trauma and victimization. I think of her as a Michif Alice Munro.”

“Reminiscent of Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed, Robert Arthur Alexie’s Porcupines and China Dolls and Beatrice Culleton’s In Search of April Raintree, Probably Ruby is shrapnel to the heart: triggering, maddening, enraging and fearless!”

“The glass-shattering honesty in the voice, the half-hidden anguish that sears the page. Spare writing, sparing no one. The audacity of Lisa Bird Wilson’s writing—brave, taut, exacting—leaves the reader altered. This story made me catch my breath, made my heart flip-flop in my chest.”
 — LISA MOORE, 2017 Jack Hodgins Founders’ Award for Fiction Judge



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