Longlisted for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize
A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.
In the stark expanse of Northern Alberta, a queer Indigenous doctoral student steps away from his dissertation to write a novel, informed by a series of poignant encounters: a heart-to-heart with fellow doctoral student River over the mounting pressure placed on marginalized scholars; a meeting with Michael, a closeted man from his hometown whose vulnerability and loneliness punctuate the realities of queer life on the fringe. Woven throughout these conversations are memories of Jack, a cousin caught in the cycle of police violence, drugs, and survival. Jack’s life parallels the narrator’s own; the possibilities of escape and imprisonment are left to chance with colonialism stacking the odds. A Minor Chorus introduces a dazzling new literary voice whose vision and fearlessness shine much-needed light on the realities of Indigenous survival.
About the Author
Billy-Ray Belcourt is a writer from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He is an assistant professor in the School of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia and the author of three books of poetry and nonfiction. He lives in Vancouver.
An absolutely dazzling confluence of big ideas and raw emotions, told in Billy-Ray Belcourt’s singular poetic voice. A Minor Chorus is about loving, questioning, and fighting for your life, and it’s as compelling a debut novel as I’ve read in years.
— Jami Attenberg, author of I Came All This Way to Meet You
No one breaks your heart as elegantly as Billy-Ray Belcourt. Innovative, intimate, and meticulous.
— Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster
A Minor Chorus is a rare gem of a book. We will be reading and rereading A Minor Chorus for decades to come.
— Alicia Elliott, author of A Mind Spread Out on the Ground
A truly exceptional novel about how the disregarded sometimes live the most remarkable lives. A Minor Chorus is like a song that’s over too soon; I want to play it on repeat, to memorize the words so that I can sing them to myself.
— Katherena Vermette, author of The Strangers
An achingly gorgeous debut novel of Indigenous survival…This is a breathtaking and hypnotic achievement.
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Following his essay collection, A History of My Brief Body, poet Belcourt, from the Driftpile Cree Nation, continues his exploration of Indigenous trauma and queerness in this erudite debut novel…Smart, thoughtful.
— Kathy Sexton - Booklist
With his first novel, wunderkind Belcourt cements what has become increasingly clear across two poetry collections and a memoiristic book of essays: he is a fearless writer... [A Minor Chorus is] a ruminative constellation of ideas regarding colonial trauma, heteropatriarchy, and the innate sociality of writing; Belcourt’s boldest, freest, and most linguistically assured work yet.
— Library Journal (starred review)
A Minor Chorus is a feat of technical brilliance, a novel that questions the worth of writing even as it asserts its own value. It is a slippery, scholarly work, rooted in the layered complexity of Indigenous life.
— Laura Sackton - BookPage (starred review)