Books

Billy-Ray Belcourt's debut novel, A Minor Chorus, to be published in 2022

A Minor Chorus will follow an unnamed narrator who abandons his thesis and goes back to his hometown.
Billy-Ray Belcourt. (Tenille Campbell)

Griffin Poetry Prize-winning poet Billy-Ray Belcourt is publishing a novel. Minor Chorus will be released by Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada, in 2022.

The novel was acquired as part of a two-book deal.

A Minor Chorus will follow an unnamed narrator who abandons his thesis and goes back to his hometown, where he has a series of intimate encounters bringing the modern queer and Indigenous experience into focus.

Belcourt won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize for his first poetry collection, This Wound is a World, which uses love and sex to understand how Indigenous people deal with sadness and pain.

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 is a PhD student from Driftpile Cree Nation in Alberta. In 2016, he became the first Indigenous person from Canada to be a Rhodes Scholar. 

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 Body, which 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.

"Despite everything that has happened to us as Indigenous people — and despite our ongoing subjection to colonial violence of many kinds — we're still desirous of security and freedom and joy," Belcourt told CBC Books in an interview in early 2020.

"There's a way to write about Canada that does not foreclose the possibility of a decolonial tomorrow. The current arrangement of bodies and feelings and environments isn't the one that we're beholden to."

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