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Hamish Hamilton

Coexistence: Stories by Billy-Ray Belcourt

Coexistence: Stories by Billy-Ray Belcourt

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Fiction - Short Stories - Indigenous - LGBTQ+


A collection of intersecting stories about Indigenous love and loneliness from one of contemporary literature’s most boundless minds.

Across the prairies and Canada’s west coast, on reserves and university campuses, at literary festivals and existential crossroads, the characters in Coexistence are searching for connection. They’re learning to live with and understand one another, to see beauty and terror side by side, and to accept that the past, present, and future can inhabit a single moment.

An aging mother confides in her son about an intimate friendship from her distant girlhood. A middling poet is haunted by the cliché his life has become. A chorus of anonymous gay men dispense unvarnished truths about their sex lives. A man freshly released from prison finds that life on the outside has sinister strictures of its own. A PhD student dog-sits for his parents at what was once a lodging for nuns operating a residential school—a house where the spectre of Catholicism comes to feel eerily literal.

Bearing the compression, crystalline sentences, and emotional potency that have characterized his earlier books, Coexistence is a testament to Belcourt’s mastery of and playfulness in any literary form. A vital addition to an already rich catalogue, this is a must-read collection and the work of an author at the height of his powers.


BILLY-RAY BELCOURT (he/him) is a writer from the Driftpile Cree Nation. His debut novel, A Minor Chorus, won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and was longlisted for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize. His bestselling memoir, A History of My Brief Body, won the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Governor General's Literary Award. He won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize for his debut collection, This Wound Is a World, which was also a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. A recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and an Indspire Award, Belcourt is Assistant Professor of Indigenous Creative Writing at UBC.

"Belcourt is one of the finest and most sublime writers at work today. This book is a feat of beauty and compression, every sentence reinventing the reader. It's like entering a quiet room or a secret lake. It's about our coexistence with lovers, kin, enemies, but also our coexistence with desire, solitude, and an intelligence that in itself is a form of hunger--language as solace, language as light. Belcourt is the rare writer who composes from, to, and because of the soul. It's been some time since I loved a book so deeply."
--Claudia Dey, author of Daughter

"Through the interconnected lifeworlds contained in Coexistence, we hear a defiantly loving and astoundingly honest response to colonial and racial violence. Billy-Ray Belcourt has written an homage and an elegy to a still-unfolding history--as intimate and hopeful as young romance, as mysterious and life-giving as family. I adore this collection."
--Tsering Yangzom Lama, author of We Measure the Earth with our Bodies

" Coexistence filled my heart and lifted my spirit. There are few writers who can authentically capture the beauty and complexity of Indigenous existence both on the rez and in the city like Billy-Ray Belcourt. This book is a resolute proclamation of resilient Indigenous humanity and the nuance and richness we all embody. The stories weave and enrich on journeys that are both familiar and informative. Coexistence is a powerful celebration and a gift to the world."
--Waubgeshig Rice, author of Moon of the Turning Leaves

"Billy-Ray Belcourt's Coexistence is a brilliant exploration of the boundaries both imposed and imagined that exist between beings and the spaces we inhabit. I wildly admire Belcourt's crisp prose and remarkable insights, yet what haunts me most about these powerful stories is the author's heart-blasted willingness to be vulnerable on the page. This engaging, alive text drills right to heart of what it is to be Indigenous in the twenty-first century."
--Mona Susan Power, author of A Council of Dolls

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