cover image A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

Billy-Ray Belcourt. Norton, $15.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-324-02142-1

Memoirist Belcourt (A History of My Brief Body) delivers an achingly gorgeous debut novel of Indigenous survival. The unnamed narrator, a 24-year-old queer Cree graduate student living in Edmonton, Alberta, has stalled on his dissertation in critical theory. He decides to leave the program and return home to northern Alberta to write a novel. For research, he interviews locals, including a great-aunt whose grandson has been arrested and a newspaper editor who never came out as gay after losing his first love to suicide. Even the narrator’s depiction of a hookup with a visiting white man veers into a precise, insightful excavating of trauma. A trip to the nearby residential school sparks an unpleasant encounter with an entitled white woman before the narrator returns to Edmonton for one last interview. Belcourt weaves in a steady stream of references to work by Judith Butler, Roland Barthes, and Maggie Nelson without losing narrative momentum, and he delivers incendiary reflections on the costs, scars, and power of history and community. This is a breathtaking and hypnotic achievement. (Oct.)