POWERFUL WRITING: Alicia is a piercing and evocative writer. Her writing is a perfect blend of rigorous intellect, empathy and self-aware reflection.
TIMELY SUBJECT: Alicia’s book comes to us hard on the heels of a fierce debate in Canada about cultural appropriation and the hunger to hear from our Indigenous and marginalized voices. This book is a fresh and vital contribution to our culture and the ongoing conversation and desire for change and greater diversity represented in publishing and media.
RISING STAR: Alicia gets a lot of attention online for her powerful messages and her willingness to engage in the tough conversations happening nationwide. She has quickly established herself as an indispensable voice when it comes to Indigenous issues in Canada, and has strong support from both the Native and non-Native, allied community.
#1 National Bestseller
Shortlisted for the 2019 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
Shortlisted for the 2020 First Nation Communities Read Indigenous Literature Award
Winner of the 2020 Forest of Reading Evergreen Award
“A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is a tour de force…. Tuscarora writer Alicia Elliott takes her place among essayists such as [Roxane] Gay and [Samantha] Irby, infusing intimate details of her own life with sociopolitical analysis and biting wit…. In this collection, the particular structure of the personal essay—beginning with the experience of the writer and then weaving in threads of related material—is at its finest.” —The Globe and Mail
“Exceptional essays as arresting as her title…. Elliott ranges over a wide canvas. She tackles the vexed question of identity, both personal and political, powerfully linking larger questions of Indigenous life—from the residential school legacy to the loss of languages—to the unfolding of her own life. In forthright prose, in a format…that should make it difficult for non-Indigenous Canadians to ignore, she also links past and present, laying out how the colonial legacy still shapes contemporary lives, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.” —Maclean’s
“[Elliott’s] childhood is heartbreaking ground, and she writes about it fearlessly in her debut collection of essays, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground. With caustic wit and sharp prose, Elliott…turns her own lived experience into seething declarations on the political and social issues of contemporary Canada…. Weaving her own childhood trauma, teen motherhood, her mother’s mental illness and her father’s abusive behaviour, Elliott is fierce and unapologetic in damning the ’settler’ class for propagating a modern take on colonial attitudes toward Indigenous Canadians and people of colour…. A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is a breathless barrage of facts, confessions and conjecture.” —Toronto Star
“In this bitingly smart, often funny, consistently challenging collection, the Tuscarora writer Alicia Elliott tells her own story alongside that of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. She comes at matters of trauma, racism and reconciliation with dazzlingly fresh perspectives…. Each one is candid and compelling, simmering with an underlying call for change.” —Chatelaine
“In her raw, unflinching memoir…Elliott sketches a broad-strokes map of Native brokenness, crisscrossed by rivers of blood—the genocide perpetrated by the U.S. government on Indigenous peoples. Midway, you think that you’ve read the worst that has happened to this author, but the floor drops yet again. Her book is a searing cry to stanch the bleeding.” —The New York Times
“Elliott is fearless here in revealing her own encounters with mental illness and family trauma. But these are not chapters of autobiography. They’re meant as lenses through which author and reader can view what would otherwise be too vast to take in at once: the ongoing cultural catastrophe Indigenous people have experienced under colonialism.” —The Georgia Straight
“Elliott’s writing is equally fearless as she reflects on intimate details from her life, like her mother’s struggles with bipolar disorder and her own teenaged motherhood, and racism within the Canadian judicial system and the links between suicide within Indigenous communities and colonialism. Treading on these heavy subjects, Elliott remains inquisitive and insightful, while never shying away from biting humour.” —NOW
“Elliott takes a raw, fierce, deep-dive into the lasting legacy of colonialism in Canada.” —The Hill Times
“With its eloquent combination of love, anger and impassioned insight, [A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is] a must read.” —PopMatters
“Alicia Elliott has shown us her mind and life and process in stark, beautiful detail.” —Hamilton Review of Books
“This book is hard, vital medicine. It is a dance of survival and cultural resurgence. Above all, it is breathtakingly contemporary Indigenous philosophy, in which the street is also part of the land, and the very act of thinking is conditioned by struggles for justice and well-being.” —Warren Cariou, author of Lake of the Prairies
“These essays are of fiercest intelligence and courageous revelation. Here, colonialism and poverty are not only social urgencies, but violence felt and fought in the raw of the everyday, in embodied life and intimate relations. This is a stunning, vital triumph of writing.” —David Chariandy, author of Brother
“Wildly brave and wholly original, Alicia Elliot is the voice that rouses us from the mundane, speaks political poetry and brings us to the ceremony of every day survival. Her words remind us to carry both our weapons and our medicines, to hold both our strength and our open, weeping hearts. A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is what happens when you come in a good way to offer prayer, and instead, end up telling the entire damn truth of it all.” —Cherie Dimaline, author of The Marrow Thieves
“A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is a new lens on Indigenous Canadian literature.” —Terese Marie Mailhot, author of Heart Berries
“We need to clone Alicia Elliott because the world needs more of this badass writer. A Mind Spread Out on the Ground showcases her peculiar alchemy, lighting the darkest corners of racism, classism, sexism with her laser-focused intellect and kind-hearted soul-searching. A fresh and revolutionary cultural critic alternately witty, vulnerable and piercing.” —Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster and Trickster Drift
“The future of CanLit is female, is Indigenous—is Alicia Elliott. I anticipate this book to be featured on every ’best of’ and award list in 2019, and revered for years to come.” —Vivek Shraya, author of I’m Afraid of Men and even this page is white
“In A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, Elliott invites readers into her unceded mind and heart, taking us on a beautiful, incisive and punk rock tour of Tuscarora brilliance. Elliott’s voice is fire with warmth, light, rage and endless transformation.” —Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of This Accident of Being Lost
“Alicia Elliott has gifted us with an Indigenous woman’s coming of age story, told through engagingly thoughtful, painfully poignant and enraging essays on race, love and belonging. With poetic prose and searing honesty, she lays bare what it is like to grow up Indigenous and exist in a country proud of its tolerance, but one that has proven to be anything but. She opens eyes and captures hearts, leading you by the hand to see our fractured world through her eyes. Alicia is exactly the voice we need to hear now.” —Tanya Talaga, author of Seven Fallen Feathers
“Incisive. That’s the word I keep coming back to. A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is incredibly incisive. Alicia Elliot slices through the sometimes complicated, often avoided issues affecting so many of us in this place now called Canada. She is at once political, personal, smart, funny, global and, best of all, divinely human. Necessary. That’s the other word I keep thinking about. In every chapter, she manages to find the perfect word and the precise argument needed—I found myself saying ’yes, yes, that is exactly it’ more than once. I am so grateful for her work.” —Katherena Vermette, author of The Break
“A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is an astonishing book of insightful and affecting essays that will stay with you long after the final page.” —Zoe Whittall, author of The Best Kind of People
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