Billy-Ray Belcourt (he/him) is a writer from the Driftpile Cree Nation.
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.
2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist