‘Probably Ruby’ explores the legacy of forced Indigenous adoption and residential schools in Canada
In the new novel “Probably Ruby,” a young Canadian woman gets pregnant in the 1970s but is forced to give up the child for adoption, partly because she’s an unmarried teen, but also because the father is a young Indigenous man.
Baby Ruby is raised by a white family, who goes to great lengths to conceal her heritage with actions large and small — concealing information about her birth parents, making her wear large hats to prevent her skin from darkening.
The novel, written as a series of vignettes, spans 60 years and follows Ruby, her family and friends as she navigates her search for her family and a sense of belonging.
Host Celeste Headless talks to author Lisa Bird-Wilson about the book and her own life as a Metis Canadian and Canada’s centuries of anti-Indigenous policy.
Lisa Bird-Wilson Interview with Shelagh Rogers on The Next Chapter
‘Kinship is one of the most important things’: Lisa Bird-Wilson’s Probably Ruby is about the power of heritage.
News from Hogarth/Random House, New York:
Métis writer and a director of the Gabriel Dumont Institute of Native Studies, Lisa Bird-Wilson’s debut novel Probably Ruby, about a Métis woman adopted by white parents as an infant now in search of her identity, telling multiple stories of the generations of people connected to her through family, race, legacy, and history. Hogarth and Random House Vice President and Executive Editor David Ebershoff bought world rights (minus Canada) for Hogarth from Denise Bukowski of the Bukowski Literary Agency. For rights inquiries, contact Denise Cronin, email@example.com
Hogarth is an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Publishers Marketplace Deal Report
Publishers Weekly: Book Deals: Week of March 8, 2021
Promotion of Probably Ruby, released August 2021 by Doubleday Canada:
Probably Ruby Review in the Toronto Star: Lisa Bird-Wilson’s ‘elegiac’ new novel ‘Probably Ruby’ powerful treatise on Canada’s foster-care system
CBC Books lauds Lisa Bird-Wilson’s Probably Ruby as work of Canadian fiction to look out for
Probably Ruby is one of 15 books both Margaret Atwood and Adrienne Clarkson look forward to
Probably Ruby featured in the Reader’s Digest Book Club (July/August 2021 issue)
Probably Ruby featured in Chatelaine Magazine (July/August 2021 issue)
Praise for Probably Ruby
“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
“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!”
— Richard Van Camp
“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
“I loved Ruby and getting to know her through the people she encountered…I loved how the novel unfolded touching on everything from abuse to Ruby’s complicated sexuality. I loved the humanity and authenticity of her character as well as the other characters in the novel. I felt for all of them, even the dastardly because we are all products of our circumstances, the love we receive or don’t receive.”
— Stella Harvey, author of Finding Callidora