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A History of My Brief Body
The youngest ever winner of the Griffin Prize mines his own personal history to reconcile the world he was born into with the world that could be.
Billy-Ray Belcourt's debut memoir opens with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life in the hamlet of Joussard, Alberta, and on the Driftpile First Nation. From there, it expands to encompass the big and broken world around him, in all its complexity and contradictions: a legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it, first loves and first loves lost, sexual exploration and intimacy, and the act of writing as a survival instinct and a way to grieve. What emerges is not only a profound meditation on memory, gender, anger, shame, and ecstasy, but also the outline of a way forward. With startling honesty, and in a voice distinctly and assuredly his own, Belcourt situates his life experiences within a constellation of seminal queer texts, among which this book is sure to earn its place. Eye-opening, intensely emotional, and excessively quotable, A History of My Brief Body demonstrates over and over again the power of words to both devastate and console us.
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About the author
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.
“Bursting with all the movements of sex, riot, and repose, this book presents us with a shock of recognition and reclamation... I'm gutted by his brilliant mind.”
Cherie Dimaline, author of Empire of Wild and The Marrow Thieves
“Puts the reader at the centre of a deeply serious struggle--with language, with sexuality, with race and colonial Canada, and with love and joy and a life in art.”
Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood and How Should a Person Be?
“An NDN love story that will stop you in your tracks. [Belcourt has] achieves 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
“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