MLA Platinum Award Press Release

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground Summary and Reviews

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

by Alicia Elliott

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott X
A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott
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About this book

Book Summary

A bold and profound meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America from an award-winning Haudenosaunee writer.

The Mohawk phrase for depression can be roughly translated to "a mind spread out on the ground." In this urgent and visceral work, Alicia Elliott explores how apt a description that is for the ongoing effects of personal, intergenerational, and colonial traumas she and so many Native people have experienced.

Elliott's deeply personal writing details a life spent between Indigenous and white communities, a divide reflected in her own family, and engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, art, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrification, and representation. Throughout, she makes thrilling connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political.

A national bestseller in Canada, this updated and expanded American edition helps us better understand legacy, oppression, and racism throughout North America, and offers us a profound new way to decolonize our minds.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Elliott writes with honesty and empathy of her life and the lives of family, constantly reckoning with institutional racism...her larger views on the treatment of Indigenous peoples...are well thought through and elegantly argued. An impressive debut from a welcome new voice in Native letters." - Kirkus Reviews

"An instant must-read...Elliott's prose is beautiful, and her insight into the deeply personal and its interconnectedness with the wider world makes this book readable, infuriating, and essential." - LitHub

"A tour de force...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..." - The Globe and Mail

"Elliott is fierce and unapologetic." - Toronto Star

"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." - Maclean's

"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

"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

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Author Information

Alicia Elliott

Alicia Elliott's writing has been published in the Washington Post, the Globe and Mail, Vice, and The Best American Short Stories 2018, among others. She has been shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. Born in Buffalo, NY and raised between there and Ohio, she now lives in Brantford, Ontario with her husband and child.

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