Coexistence: Stories (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Belcourt’s characters, most of them Indigenous, many of them queer, struggle with the difficulty of human relations but also sometimes — gloriously — experience the miraculousness of connection. Other themes include colonialism and the creative impulse.

- Rachael

— From Coexistence (Staff Pick)


Superbly rendered portraits of modern indigeneity from the acclaimed author of A Minor Chorus.

A grieving mother calls out to her faraway son. A student forgoes the lurid appeal of dating apps in exchange for a painter’s love. The anonymous voices of queer native men converge amid violent eroticism. A man just out of prison balances the uneasy weight of family and freedom, while a professor returns home to conduct research only to be haunted by a dark specter. The stories and voices in Billy-Ray Belcourt’s debut story collection are buoyed by philosophical undergirding, poetic demand, and the complex relationship between aesthetics and ethics. Belcourt pirouettes through the short story form in his signature staccato voice, imagining a range of characters from all walks of native life. He is an expert in celebrating the ways Indigenous peoples make total conquest impossible.

“These characters’ passionate insistence on loving and desiring and hoping, amid the existential terror of colonization—and Billy-Ray Belcourt’s nuanced and attentive rendering of it—is the most revolutionary of acts.” —Vauhini Vara, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Immortal King Rao

“A brilliant exploration of the boundaries both imposed and imagined that exist between beings and the spaces we inhabit. This engaging, alive text drills right to the heart of what it is to be Indigenous in the twenty-first century.” —Mona Susan Power, author of A Council of Dolls

About the Author

Billy-Ray Belcourt is a writer from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He is an assistant professor in the School of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia and the founder of oteh nikan, an online magazine of LGBTQ2S+ indigenous writing. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Praise For…

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

In Coexistence, Billy-Ray Belcourt has written a collection of deeply moving and philosophical stories. These characters’ passionate insistence on loving and desiring and hoping, amid the existential terror of colonization — and Belcourt’s nuanced and attentive rendering of it — is the most revolutionary of acts.

— Vauhini Vara, author of Pulitzer Prize-finalist The Immortal King Rao

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

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 21st century.

— Mona Susan Power, author of A Council of Dolls

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 masterfully portrays the complexities of Indigenous lives, longing, and belonging through these stories. There are sentences in this collection that I didn’t know I had been waiting to read; my breath caught on several of them. I suspect that readers will be letting out collective sighs while reading this book.”
— Helen Knott, author of Becoming a Matriarch

Belcourt's writing is always lyrical, profound and emotional.
— Deborah Dundas - Toronto Star

The long shadow of a residential school building, the candour of gay men discussing their sex lives, intersecting stories of Indigenous love in Western Canada – in Coexistence, Billy-Ray Belcourt deploys his celebrated and playful literary voice to explore the connections and the distances between people, places, and times.

— Andrew Woodrow-Butcher - Quill&Quire

Coexistence is the culmination of that exploration [of other characters and narrative pathways], and the text is classic Belcourt: highly intellectual, but also vividly emotional

— Sara Horowitz - The Georgia Straight

The redemptive pull of the collection lies in the unabashed permission [Belcourt] provides for his Indigenous characters to get what they want in the form of receiving the love they desire and deserve. And this is where the book feels radical in its generosity, and the work is striking for its clarity of purpose. For all we need to do to survive, what ultimately sustains us is our memories of when we were wanted, of when we were loved.
— Jackie Wong - The Tyee

Product Details
ISBN: 9781324075943
ISBN-10: 1324075945
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 176
Language: English