Kelli Jo Ford

Richmond, Virginia
Literary Fiction

My Bread, My War is the story of Marlissa and Janey, a Cherokee mother and daughter, seeking revenge against Marlissa’s abusive white ex-husband. The book opens two years before the Oklahoma City bombing, after he has taken up with a group of white nationalist religious zealots connected to Timothy McVeigh. The novel takes a semi-comic tone, as the women begin to see one another as adults, involve the family matriarch, and delight in their new relationship and ploy to stake out the white nationalist compound. As a counternarrative, the book won’t center violent white men or trauma. It’s a story about Marlissa and Janey’s relationship and how it grows once they join forces, deepens once they enlist the help of Marlissa’s mother, and how they learn more than they bargained for about a white supremacist compound in the middle of the Cherokee Nation. This is a story of Cherokee women’s generational strength, love, humor, and perseverance, inspired by the matriarchs of Ford’s own family and a real Christian Identity compound located in the Cherokee Nation.

Kelli Jo Ford’s debut novel-in-stories Crooked Hallelujah was longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, The Story Prize, the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. She is the recipient of The Paris Review’s 2019 Plimpton Prize, the Everett Southwest Literary Award, a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, and a Dobie Paisano Fellowship. She teaches writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.