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A History of My Brief Body
By (author): Billy-Ray Belcourt
Billy-Ray Belcourt

Imprint:

Penguin Canada

ISBN:

9780735237803

Product Form:

Paperback

Form detail:

Trade
Paperback , Trade
English

Audience:

General / adult
Aug 24, 2021
$17.95 CAD
Active

Dimensions:

7.5in x 5.01 x 0.54 in | 0.32 lb

Page Count:

192 pages

Illustrations:

ONE PHOTO ON TEXT STOCK
Penguin Canada
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / Indigenous
 
BC Book Prize's Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize 2021, Short-listed BC Book Prize's Jim Deva Prize for Writing That Provokes 2021, Short-listed Governor General's Literary Award - Nonfiction 2020, Short-listed Lambda Literary Award 2021, Short-listed
Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Prize for Nonfiction

Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award

Finalist for the Jim Deva Prize for Writing That Provokes

Finalist for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize



NATIONAL BESTSELLER



A slim but electrifying debut memoir about the preciousness and precariousness of queer Indigenous life.



Opening with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life on the Driftpile First Nation, Billy-Ray Belcourt delivers a searing account of Indigenous life that’s part love letter, part rallying cry.



With the lyricism and emotional power of his award-winning poetry, Belcourt cracks apart his history and shares it with us one fragment at a time. He shines a light on Canada’s legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it. He revisits sexual encounters, ruminates on first loves and first loves lost, and navigates the racial politics of gay hookup apps. Among the hard truths he distills, the outline of a brighter future takes shape.



Bringing in influences from James Baldwin to Ocean Vuong, this book is a testament to the power of language—to devastate us, to console us, to help us grieve, to help us survive. Destined to be dog-eared, underlined, treasured, and studied for years to come, A History of My Brief Body is a stunning achievement from one of this generation’s finest young minds.

DEBUT IN NEW GENRE: Pivoting to non-fiction, Belcourt brings the lyricism, sharpness, and emotional weight of his poetry to an audience who might be looking for a more accessible reading experience. 

CRITICAL RECEPTION: In its first format, this book earned a starred Kirkus Review and a Lambda nomination, was named a best book of the year by the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, and Indigo, and received attention online from writers like Ijeoma Oluo and Jami Attenberg.

IMPORTANT PERSPECTIVE: Writing from a queer Indigenous lens, Belcourt is in a unique position to write about racism and disenfranchisement, sexual and mental health, and gun violence and police brutality.

PAST ACCOLADES: Belcourt is the first Indigenous Rhodes Scholar and was the youngest winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize for his debut poetry collection, which was also nominated for a Governor General’s Award. His second collection was longlisted for Canada Reads.

SMALLER FORMAT: A slim, small-format paperback makes this accessible and affordable.

INVESTMENT IN CAREER: Although this memoir was published in the US by an independent press, we’re publishing Belcourt’s forthcoming novel (A Minor Chorus, Fall ’22) alongside Norton and have already signed his subsequent work of fiction.

BILLY-RAY BELCOURT (he/him) is a writer and scholar from the Driftpile Cree Nation. 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. His second book of poetry, NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field, was longlisted for Canada Reads 2020. A recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and an Indspire Award, Belcourt is Assistant Professor of Indigenous Creative Writing at UBC.

Author Residence: Vancouver, British Columbia

Author Hometown: Joussard, Northern Alberta

WINNER OF THE HUBERT EVANS NON-FICTION PRIZE
WINNER OF THE 2020-2021 ALCUIN DESIGN AWARD FOR NON-FICTION PROSE
FINALIST FOR THE JIM DEVA PRIZE FOR WRITING THAT PROVOKES
FINALIST FOR THE GOVERNOR GENERAL’S LITERARY AWARD FOR NON-FICTION
FINALIST FOR THE LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FOR GAY MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY

One of Quill & Quire’s 2020 Books of the Year


“Displays a pervading lucidity, akin to dreaming while standing wide awake, feet firmly on the soil…[A] fascinating exploration of the impact of colonialism in all its ramifications.”
Quill & Quire (starred)

A History of My Brief Body knocked me on my ass…These essays transcend genre and become something else entirely―a reliquary of self-love and becoming.” 
Buzzfeed

“Elegantly crafted…an urgently needed, unyielding book of theoretical and intimate strength.” 
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Slim but immersive, a work of joy and reckoning, and of imagining a better world.” 
LitHub

“An incomparable book full of emotion, analysis, and poetic beauty.” 
Star Tribune

“Bursting with all the movements of sex, riot, and repose, this book presents us with a shock of recognition and reclamation, and we are better for it―punch drunk and aching but, oh, so much better. I’m gutted by his brilliant mind.” ―Cherie Dimaline, author of Empire of Wild and The Marrow Thieves

“A passionate and vital autobiography about the intellect, the culture, and the flesh, as it bears its assaults and preserves a true light.”
—Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood and How Should a Person Be?
 
An NDN love story that will stop you in your tracks. I’m struck by the gentleness in Belcourt’s words, his ability to move across scales, and the complexity of his thought. He’s achieved something here that we’ve collectively been trying to achieve for a long time, and it makes me feel proud.”
—Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of This Accident of Being Lost

“Billy-Ray Belcourt uses a dexterity of language and form as a container for memory and nostalgia as vehicles for truth about a still-blooming present. I love a book where a writer treats themselves and their own histories with gentleness and care, and this book is a towering achievement on that front.”
―Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us

“With precision and care, Billy-Ray Belcourt presses thought against feeling to make, in each essay, an unbounded space for knowing and for staying whole.”
―Elissa Washuta, author of My Body Is a Book of Rules

“Billy-Ray Belcourt is proving himself to be a literary genius. His poetry and prose are tender and brutal and brilliant.”
—Heather O’Neill, author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel

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