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The Book Nook

Le Coin Lecture

Curl up and grab one of these books to help you navigate the work that's ahead.

This list is meant to help, challenge, and encourage discussions around DEI, Anti-Racism and Emerging Leadership practices. 

June 2024

A Minor Chorus - Billy-Ray Belcourt.png

Credit: Aniko Press

A Minor Chorus by Billy-Ray Belcourt

By: Sas Miller

What's this about?

An unnamed queer, indigenous doctoral student abandons their Ph.D. dissertation to head back to their hometown in rural northern Alberta with the goal of writing a novel. Through memories and conversations with family members, childhood friends, and past lovers, the narrator explores the intersecting realities of life on the fringes of a settler colonial society.

About The Author

Billy-Ray Belcourt is a poet and author from the Driftpile Cree Nation in Alberta, whose work covers the topics of love, queerness, grief, and indigenous resistance. In 2016, Belcourt was the recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, and in 2018 their poetry collection, This Wound is a World, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. A Minor Chorus is their first novel.


Indigenous Literature, Queer Fiction, Own Voices

What We Liked

Belcourt describes A Minor Chorus as “a hypothesis of a novel” which “pushes the boundaries of what the art form can be.” (Shondalanda). This was skillfully executed in the writing style, which was reminiscent of oral storytelling. While familiar aspects of a novel are there, often the book feels like the author’s stream of consciousness, which adds a layer of intimacy. It invites the reader to be part of the conversations between characters, and to answer the questions being asked by the unnamed narrator.


What we remember: Belcourt references the work of African-American author Toni Morrison in the novel, as one of the writing influences of the unnamed narrator. Morrison’s influence was clear in the use of imagery and metaphors, which added a poetic musicality to Belcourt’s prose.

What this book is : A fictional examination of the enduring colonial institutions and violence which shape the realities of indigenous life in contemporary Canada.


What this book isn't :  A traditional linear novel with a clear beginning, middle and tidy resolution. The book feels like part novel, part oral history, part essay collection, part sociological text.

Why Read This Book

This book gives a necessary voice into what it’s like to be a minority within a minority. The narrator and other characters have to navigate an existence within the colonial confines of northern Alberta, in addition to being outcasts within their own families and communities because of their queer identities.

Quick Quote

“The problem: universities are institutions inside which one could feel as if they were doing radical work when in actuality that radical work was being co-opted and diminished and transformed into “diversity” and “equity” data. Despite our idealism, despite our elegantly articulated methodologies of resistance, our research output would likely be called forth as evidence of a structural reckoning that was happening, not in any substantial sense.” (p. 10 - 11)


“My body felt so thoroughly overdetermined by forces outside of me, yet it was the source of my liveability, it literally coursed with life even as life was something I was being deprived of.” (p. 22)

Get the Gist

Listen to author Billy-Ray Belcourt discuss A Minor Chorus on the Between The Covers podcast.

How does it fare?

“It’s hard to describe just how moving and unusual this novel is. It is intensely interior, sometimes dizzyingly so… A Minor Chorus is a feat of technical brilliance, a novel that questions the worth of writing even as it asserts its own value.”


“A Minor Chorus is a very slim, dense novel that begs to be read again and again like a poem, and the narrator’s abstract fixations make the concreteness of Belcourt’s imagery, texture, and sounds all the more potent.”

– Colorado State University Review

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