Her first novel, In the Language of Love (1994), is composed of one hundred chapters, each one based on one of the one hundred words in the Standard Word Association Test, which was used to measure sanity. There are chapters titled "Table," "Slow," "Cabbage," and "Scissors." New York Times reviewer Jay Parini wrote: "...I feel quite certain that Diane Schoemperlen is a novelist of real promise. In the Language of Love adds to the lexicon of contemporary fiction, revealing 'the splendid terrors of daily life' with considerable grace."
In her second novel, Our Lady of the Lost and Found (2001), the narrator is visited by the Virgin Mary, and the two women spend one week cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Critical reception was mixed: the reviewer for Quill & Quire complained that "The novel is narrated by a woman who purports to be a making-it writer, who claims to have had a nice visit from Mary; Mary made her promise to write this novel. But not 50 pages into it, I am asked to care about a writer who doesn’t care enough about her writing. The paragraph is a cliché stratum. It contains only one sharpened word – Virgin. Sentences this lax occur throughout the book, though not usually stacked quite so high." (Lorna Jackson) On the other hand, a blogger identifying herself as CatholicMom praised the novel: "As this Everywoman and Mary become friends, their conversations, both profound and intimate, touch upon Mary's significance and enduring relevance. Told with humor and grace, Our Lady of the Lost and Found is an absorbing tour through Mary's history and a thoughtful meditation on spirituality, our need for faith."
Asked by the blog "12 or 20 questions" where a piece of fiction usually begins for her, Diane Schoemperlen replied: "Most often, a piece of fiction begins with an idea about form and structure; for instance, the idea of writing a story with pictures, or a story told in e-mails, or a story alternating between fact and fiction, or a story based on the 100 words of the Standard Word Association Test. Sometimes a story begins with a sentence that is stuck in my head. Sometimes this is a sentence of my own (my story “Forms of Devotion” came from the first sentence: “The faithful are everywhere.”) Sometimes the sentence is from something I’ve read."
- Double Exposures, 1984 (ISBN 0-88910-280-5)
- Frogs & Other Stories, 1986 (ISBN 0-919627-38-2)
- Hockey Night in Canada, 1987 (ISBN 0-919627-56-0)
- The Man of My Dreams, 1990 (ISBN 0-7715-9973-0)
- Hockey Night in Canada & Other Stories, 1991 (ISBN 1-55082-003-6)
- In the Language of Love: A Novel in 100 Chapters, 1994 (ISBN 0-00-224373-3)
- Forms of Devotion, 1998 (ISBN 0-670-87696-8)
- Our Lady of the Lost and Found, 2001 (ISBN 0-14-200132-5)
- Red Plaid Shirt, 2002 (ISBN 0-00-200518-2)
- Names of the Dead : An Elegy for the Victims of September 11, 2004 (ISBN 0-670-03325-1)
- At a Loss for Words, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-00-200881-5)
- This Is Not My Life: A Memoir of Love, Prison, and Other Complications, 2016 (ISBN 978-1-44343-420-1)
Awards and nominations
- 1990 Governor General's Award for English Fiction: The Man of My Dreams (nominee)
- 1994 Books in Canada First Novel Award: In the Language of Love (nominee)
- 1998 Governor General's Award for English Fiction: Forms of Devotion (winner)
- 2007 Marian Engel Award (winner)
- Diane Schoemperlen's entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia