Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson

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70,000 words
Finished books now available


World (ex-Canada):
  Hogarth/Random House (April 12, 2022)
Canada: Doubleday (August 2021)


Lisa Bird-Wilson (Photo: George Gingras)
(Photo: George Gingras)

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, where she is CEO of the Gabriel Dumont Institute, devoted to the study of Métis culture.


Probably Ruby - Canadian edition

Probably Ruby

a novel by Lisa Bird-Wilson


“Ruby never disappoints with her big heart and outrageous sense of humor — and her resilient search for her own history.” — THE NEW YORK TIMES

“In a time when truth is coveted, ‘Probably Ruby’ is a refreshing reminder of the realities of forced Indigenous adoption and family separation. Bird-Wilson’s writing is at times poetic and ever compelling. We are fortunate to have her and Ruby among us.” — THE WASHINGTON POST

“Probably Ruby is a dazzling novel about a bold, unapologetic woman taking control of her life and story, and marks the debut of a major new voice in Indigenous fiction.” — BOOKBROWSE REVIEW

“Fans of Tommy Orange will love Probably Ruby by Lisa Bird-Wilson. Gripping prose and unforgettable characters fill out this story of an Indigenous woman who was adopted as a child and spends her lifetime searching for family, and her authentic self.” — MARY WEBBER O'MALLEY, SKYLARK BOOKS, La Grange Highlands, IL

“Moving…. Vivid…. the fragmented nature lends a sense of verisimilitude to this painful story of a fractured family history, and readers will be carried along by Ruby’s vitality and perseverance. This is well worth a look.”

“A bighearted portrait of an Indigenous woman whose transracial adoption spurs a lifelong quest to discover—or perhaps create—her identity…. An unsparing exploration of the injustices wrought by misogyny and settler colonialism.” — KIRKUS REVIEWS

“In Probably Ruby, Lisa Bird-Wilson explores the deep vulnerability inherent in having no sense of one’s place in the world and particularly the Indigenous world. Bird-Wilson effectively captures the sadness, anger, loneliness and alienation that Indigenous children lost to the child-welfare system are plagued by as they search for a sense of meaning and identity. In turns raw, tender, funny, despairing and hopeful, Probably Ruby tells a story that needs hearing.” — MICHELLE GOOD, author of Five Little Indians

“In Probably Ruby, Lisa Bird-Wilson takes us along on a woman’s deeply poignant journey in search of self, identity, and the reclaiming of an Indigenous heritage that had been taken from her. In Ruby’s story, we see the powerful threads of family in one’s life that can shape, even from afar. This story will stay with you.” — CHERYL LU-LIEN TAN, author of Sarong Party Girls

“Told from different viewpoints, this multi-faceted narrative sparkles with life as we piece together Ruby’s story, starting before she is even born. It is utterly heartbreaking that we see parts of Ruby’s life that she herself cannot perceive, a compelling chord that stays with us throughout the novel. This is a beautiful, unusual, and insightful story about the lost pieces of one woman's life and indigenous identity.” — CHRISTY LEFTERI, bestselling author of Songbirds and The Beekeeper of Aleppo

“Probably Ruby reminds us that our stories are acts of survival. That ‘it’s not so much a question of what [we] inherit but what [we] do with it.’ That grief, too, can be a gift. Written in prose to be savored, Bird-Wilson’s novel and its heroine will stay with me for a long time.” — KELLI JO FORD, author of Crooked Hallelujah

“[Bird-Wilson’s] writing is never didactic, always engrossing, and the protagonist is a complex, unforgettable character who will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. ‘Probably Ruby’ is a timely and important novel every Canadian should read.” — TORONTO STAR

“A brave and beautiful book about an adopted woman’s search for her Indigenous identity.” — DAILYHIVE

“It’s a beautiful, hilarious novel…. Out of it emerges one of the most winning, compelling fictional characters in recent memory.” — CHATELAINE magazine

“A poignant debut novel.” — READER’S DIGEST

“A searing fictional portrait of intergenerational trauma, embodied by the unforgettable Ruby and her search for her Indigenous kin. Adopted as a baby, Ruby spent her lonely childhood being told she was specially chosen but never believing it. As an adult, she copes by drinking hard and falling in love often, all the while searching for her origins. This is a heartbreaking and revelatory work about the meaning of family, and the pain we pass through generations, as inescapable as blood: ‘Fury and love as big as the prairie sky, edgeless, boundless. What was ever inherited without grief?’” — MACLEAN’S magazine

“Writing from the depths of her heart, Lisa Bird-Wilson has gifted us a passionate exploration of identity and belonging and a celebration of our universal desire to love and be loved.” — IMBOLO MBUE, author of Behold the Dreamers and How Beautiful We Were

“In this time of crises and isolation, I’ve come to cherish Probably Ruby. It details legacies of struggle without giving in to spectacle. It illuminates, in language of deepest care and artistic exactness, the diverse relations and irreducible complexity of an unforgettable life. Lisa Bird-Wilson is someone I urge you to read.”
 — DAVID CHARIANDY, author of Brother and I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You

“Lisa Bird-Wilson holds all her characters with such compassion, even when they go spectacularly off-course, they remain sympathetic in this wildly electric novel. Each fragment builds a provocative mosaic, refusing easy redemption, embracing Ruby’s complex, volatile emotional landscape with masterstrokes of observation and insight.” — EDEN ROBINSON, author of The Trickster Trilogy

“Soft as it is hard, Probably Ruby reminds us how displacement comes to be commonplace in the lives of some. Never before have I seen a writer represent the constellation of people impacted by this kind of fractured kinship with such righteous critique that is at once restrained and nuanced. Each member of Ruby’s web of people is shaped with care, empathy, and grace—even the most unforgivable ones. Simply put, Lisa Bird-Wilson's book is one of the very best things I’ve ever read about adoption, race, and want.” — JENNY HEIJUN WILLS, author of Older Sister, Not Necessarily Related

“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.”
 — WARREN CARIOU, author of Lake of the Prairies

Probably Ruby - US edition

For readers of Tommy Orange’s There There and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Probably Ruby is an audacious, brave, and beautiful novel about an adopted woman’s search for her Indigenous identity.

Relinquished as an infant, Ruby is adopted by Alice and Mel, a less-than-desirable couple who can’t afford to complain too loudly about Ruby’s Indigenous roots. But when her new parents’ marriage falls apart, Ruby finds herself vulnerable and in compromising situations that lead her to search, in the unlikeliest of places, for her Indigenous identity.

Lifted from the mysterious Relationship Web at the front of the book, in separate chapters the people connected to Ruby spring to vibrant and unforgettable life. Together they create a map of Ruby’s life. All of them, one way or another, abandon her.

Probably Ruby explores how all of us find and invent ourselves. It’s a perfectly crafted novel, with effortless, nearly imperceptible shifts in time and perspective, exquisitely chosen detail, natural dialogue, and emotional control that results in breathtaking levels of tension and revelation, until Ruby finally connects with her roots.



Watch author Lisa Bird-Wilson talk about her novel, PROBABLY RUBY



“…a bold novel that shifts through time and points of view to tell the tale of a woman desperate to find herself.” — NOW Magazine

“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


Ruby's Relationship Map Artwork by Tanner Wilson
Click to view larger image
Ruby Relationship Web Artwork



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