Read This Book

Read This Book . . .

Welcome to Read this Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that needs to jump onto your TBR pile! These books come from all sorts of different genres and age ranges. I recently read this book for my favorite book club, the Indigenous Reading Circle.

a graphic of the cover of Minor Chorus by Billy-Ray Belcourt

A Minor Chorus by Billy-Ray Belcourt

This short novel begins with an unnamed Indigenous PhD student beginning to suspect that he may not want to finish his doctoral program. As he mulls over options, he goes around and talks to his best friend and his advisor, trying to find a way forward. Eventually, he decides to write a novel, which he feels will better express the ideas and themes he had originally wanted to communicate with his doctoral thesis. After making this decision, he heads to his Indigenous community in Northern Alberta where he interviews Indigenous people around town and on his Nation’s reservation.

A Minor Chorus is a novel of ideas. The narrative voice of the unnamed protagonist carries the novel forward, his constant turning over of ideas written in such a way that the reader’s attention never wanders. As a queer Indigenous person, our protagonist frequently examines the role that colonialism has had on Indigenous peoples, particularly in his own community. He interviews several queer Indigenous men, each of them describing their own struggle with their sexuality and whether or not it will be accepted in their own Nation.

For me the strength of A Minor Chorus is the protagonist’s narrative voice. The novel is written in first person, and the narrative voice feels so emotionally intimate. Readers feel like we are watching him mull over ideas in real time. We listen as he argues with himself and tries to decide whether or not to leave his PhD program. We listen as he internally cries for a gay man he interviews who has resigned himself to living a closeted existence for the rest of his life. We catch our breath as we listen to a grandmother describe the horrific death and arrest of different family members.

A Minor Chorus is a short novel, but in such a small amount of space, Billy-Ray Belcourt communicates so much. His prose is incredible, which I often find when poets write novels. Belcourt is more well-known in Canada, where he’s a #1 national bestseller, but I hope more people in the U.S. find his work and love it as much as so many of us already do.

That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy reading, Friends!

~ Kendra