cover image Coexistence


Billy-Ray Belcourt. Norton, $15.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-324-07594-3

In this scintillating collection from Indigenous Canadian author Belcourt (A Minor Chorus), queer Cree men grapple with the legacy of colonialism. “Being Indigenous in the twenty-first century can mean that a single hour can be governed simultaneously by joy and sadness,” says the narrator of “Lived Experience.” Such conflicting emotions play into his ambivalence about sex, but after swearing off encounters with other men, he falls for a painter named Will, and shows up at Will’s art gallery opening wearing a denim jacket emblazoned with the phrase “GAY 4 PAY JK ABOLISH WORK.” Amorous and economic concerns also overlap in “Poetry Class,” about a poet who believes in the “revolutionary demand” of his craft, while his ex was obsessed with satisfying the market. In the gritty and moving “Outside,” a restless young man named Jack beats a drug trafficking charge, returns from jail to his grandmother’s trailer on the reservation, and matches on Tinder with a neighbor named Lucy. Throughout, Belcourt sheds light on the transformative potential of love, describing, for instance, how Jack is changed by Lucy when she invites him into her life, which “open[s] space inside his mind for different memories” and drives him to “give [himself] over to new pasts, future emotional histories.” These wise and open-hearted stories astonish. (May)