A Minor Chorus

A novel by Billy-Ray Belcourt.

Billy-Ray Belcourt

An urgent first novel about breaching the prisons we live inside from one of Canada's most daring literary talents.

An unnamed narrator abandons his unfinished thesis and returns to northern Alberta in search of what eludes him: the shape of the novel he yearns to write, an autobiography of his rural hometown, the answers to existential questions about family, love, and happiness.

What ensues is a series of conversations, connections and disconnections that reveals the texture of life in a town literature has left unexplored, where the friction between possibility and constraint provides an insistent background score.

Whether he's meeting with an auntie distraught over the imprisonment of her grandson, engaging in rez gossip with his cousin at a pow wow, or lingering in bed with a married man after a hotel room hookup, the narrator makes space for those in his orbit to divulge their private joys and miseries, testing the theory that storytelling can make us feel less lonely.

Populated by characters as alive and vast as the boreal forest, and culminating in a breathtaking crescendo, A Minor Chorus is a novel about how deeply entangled the sayable and unsayable can become — and about how ordinary life, when pressed, can produce hauntingly beautiful music. (From Hamish Hamilton)

Billy-Ray Belcourt is a Rhodes Scholar and PhD student  from Driftpile Cree Nation in Alberta. His debut collection of poetry, This Wound is a World, is unapologetically Indigenous and queer at the same time. Belcourt issues a call to turn to love and sex to understand how Indigenous peoples shoulder sadness and pain without giving up on the future. 

Belcourt won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize for This Wound is a World. The collection also won the 2018 Indigenous Voices Award for most significant work of poetry in English and was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry. Belcourt's second book, NDN Coping Mechanisms, uses poetry, prose and textual art to explore how Indigenous and queer communities are left out of mainstream media. It was on the Canada Reads 2020 longlist and was shortlisted for the 2020 Lambda Literary Awards.

He is also the author of the memoir A History of My Brief Bodywhich is about how his family was impacted by colonialism and intergenerational trauma and yet still hold joy and love in their hearts and lives. It examines how he came into his queer identity and how writing became both a place of comfort and solace and a weapon for a young man trying to figure out his place in the world.

Interviews with Billy-Ray Belcourt

Billy-Ray Belcourt on his debut collection of poetry.
Billy-Ray Belcourt is one of three University of Alberta students to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, and he's the first First Nations student to be awarded the prize.
When Billy-Ray Belcourt went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, he'd never written poetry. But racist experiences and feeling "unbodied" while studying overseas inspired his Griffin prize winning book, This Wound Is a World.
Billy Ray Belcourt's memoir A History of My Brief Body just won a 2021 BC and Yukon Book Prize. This past spring, he spoke with Piya Chattopadhyay about how he has blazed a trail of firsts as an Indigenous writer and academic in Canada and beyond. He was the first Indigenous Rhodes Scholar from Canada and in 2018, became the youngest-ever winner of the Griffin Prize for Poetry. We revisit his conversation with Piya Chattopadhyay about how joy and love can be liberatory, rebellious practices for Indigenous people.

Other books by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now