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Ceremony

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  12,115 Ratings  ·  891 Reviews
Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind o ...more
Paperback, 262 pages
Published March 4th 1986 by Penguin Books (first published 1977)
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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman AlexieBeyond Oria Falls by Sheryl SealLove Medicine by Louise ErdrichCeremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
Native American Fiction
5th out of 588 books — 543 voters
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Great Debut Novels
97th out of 987 books — 1,436 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Zanna
Mar 02, 2016 Zanna rated it it was amazing
"There are some things I have to tell you," Betonie began softly. "The people nowadays have an idea about the ceremonies. They think the ceremonies must be performed exactly as they have always been done, maybe because one slip-up or mistake and the whole ceremony must be stopped and the sand painting destroyed. That much is true. They think that if a singer tampers with any part of the ritual, great harm can be done, great power unleashed." He was quiet for a while, looking up at the sky throug
...more
Christy
"I will tell you something about stories
[he said]
They aren't just entertainment.
Don't be fooled.
They are all we have, you see,
all we have to fight off
illness and death.

You don't have anything
if you don't have the stories."

Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony opens with a defense of storytelling. Storytelling is a way of making the world, a way of protecting self and culture. Ceremony itself takes part in this process, telling the story of Tayo, a young Native American come home from WWII and severely
...more
Nomy
Feb 13, 2008 Nomy rated it it was amazing
when i think about this book i picture heart cells putting their feelers out for each other, mending back together into one whole muscle capable of expansion and love... this book moved me. a friend of mine recommended this when i was trying to read another book written by a "white shaman" and having a really hard time with it. there is no comparison. this is a book about a man whose body, spirit, gut and mind are heaving with loss, and the slow careful path to being alive again. nothing about t ...more
Richard Derus
Apr 19, 2014 Richard Derus rated it it was ok
Book Circle Reads 168

Rating: 2* of five

The Publisher Says: Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution.

Tayo's quest leads him back to the Indian
...more
J.G. Keely
Like the other Native pop novelists of the 60's and 70's, Silko's voice is competent when not distracted by over-reaching, and like the others, she spins a story which is vague enough to please. She also never really escapes the fact that her depiction of Native culture is thoroughly westernized.

Her monomyth is tied up with enough Native American spirituality to make it feel new and mystical (at least to outsiders); it was even criticized for giving away 'cultural secrets'. It is somewhat tellin
...more
Kevin Quinley
Mar 05, 2008 Kevin Quinley rated it did not like it
I read this highly esteemed text as part of an 'American Ethnic Lit' course where I'm quickly learning my professor and I possess divergent literary tastes. To be sure, I'm definitely of a minority opinion, Silko's interweaving of Indian folklore into a Westernized novel receives a near-reverential treatment in the literary criticism I've skimmed. In the interest of full disclosure I will admit to a degree of standoffishness (not sure whether thats a word but accurate in any sense) from the text ...more
Jessika
Jan 05, 2010 Jessika rated it really liked it
What a beautiful book. Ceremony tells the story of a young man, Tayo, who has returned home after WWII. He goes through intensely physical and emotional feelings of alienation and estrangement because not only is he returning from a gruesome war, but he is also half-white, half-Native American and he longs to find a sense of identity for himself. Silko details the emotional journey he takes not only to heal, but to find himself and to identify where he stands amongst his world. His grieving is v ...more
poingu
May 26, 2015 poingu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to be thinking about this novel for a long time. I don't understand its power. I'm not sure how it works. The same actions and perceptions, throughout the novel, can be taken as signs of mental illness, or signs of mental clarity. Time sequence is broken over and over again in the novel, and yet the movement of the story from beginning to end feels as propulsive and climactic as any linear story. The language feels simple and declarative at first, until I realize that it's highly eleva ...more
Alex
Aug 09, 2016 Alex rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
This 1980 American Book Award winner pops up on Best Of lists, and it's gotten the Penguin Deluxe Classics treatment, but it's just okay for me.

It's the story of a Native American PTSD-afflicted WWII veteran - that's a lot of adjectives - and it's told in an achronological style that's surprisingly easy to keep track of. Interwoven are excerpts from Laguna myths, along with some original poetry, and those also work way better than you'd think they would. But there was an odd kind of corniness i
...more
Sylvia
Aug 15, 2007 Sylvia rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who feel dominated and intimidated.
Shelves: fictiousaddict
The superiority of white people -- the notion that this particular race towers over other races -- is merely a construction, so it is possible to deconstruct it. This I learn smoothly from the suffering of Tayo, the main character, a native american, who despite having fought in a war for Uncle Sam side by side with other American citizens, didn't come home a hero but found himself shamefully marginalized just like the rest of his tribe. Through a spiritual journey in a form of ceremonies he pre ...more
Amélie
Aug 07, 2016 Amélie rated it really liked it
Tayo, fils d'une mère Laguna & d'un père blanc inconnu, revient de la Seconde Guerre mondiale avec un cousin mort, des rêves de jungle asiatique & de soldats japonais, un mal-être impossible -- en gros, ce qu'on appelle alors battle fatigue. Son diagnostic, tout comme son identité, l'isolent de sa communauté. À ça s'ajoutent les misères réelles des Laguna & des autres autochtones de sa région : la sécheresse interminable, l'alcoolisme & la pauvreté, la perte de repères, les vieil ...more
Grady McCallie
Sep 11, 2015 Grady McCallie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A part-Native American veteran returns from World War II (including a grueling period as a prisoner of war) and confronts PTSD, American racism, and internalized racial self-loathing. That sounds incredibly downbeat, but two things make this a rewarding, hopeful read. First, Silko's prose is beautiful, direct and vivid, with rich descriptions of light, landscape, and the tactile world. Second, Silko does a couple really powerful things with the structure of her narrative. Since the effect of her ...more
Saskia Marijke Niehorster-Cook
My son Sasha had this as a read for school book. Half way through it he recommended I read it as well. I think I had already read it for my sociology class in College, but began reading it as well.

It is an assortment of loosely connected and colorful threads of thought that gather vivacity, perspective, and meaning as each strand is woven closer and closer to the others and becomes a flowing tapestry of meaning in this multilayered story of broken hearts, broken lives and broken spirits

On one l
...more
Andrew Bishop
May 21, 2007 Andrew Bishop rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Laguna people, redemption, shamanic healing
I just read this last year and already I'm going to have to revisit in soon. This book is a manual for post-apocalyptic healing. It couldn't be more necessary in a time when over 20% of the world's species are living ghosts, over 50% are facing extinction, global warming will threaten the (human) population in the hundreds of millions along coastlines and in areas that are increasingly desertifying.

Much less, I would recommend this book to every gringo I know. In my reading, I was presented with
...more
Madeleine
Feb 05, 2011 Madeleine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a famous one so I'm not going to bother with the plot summary thing. Instead I'm just going to rant about how great it is.

Look, there are exceptions to what I am talking about here, but I'm pretty cynical about white American authors writing American Indian/Native American stories. I'm uncomfortable with the occupier telling the occupied's stories. The colonizer gets to show their liberal/progressive credentials by speaking "about" (but very often it's really "for" or "instead of") the c
...more
James
Feb 16, 2013 James rated it did not like it
Ceremony is one of those books that I can't believe people enjoy reading. The author has the book structured in a very confusing manner. Multiple different stories are jumbled together and they run on throughout the book. For example, the first part of a story may start on page 110, but then stop the following page, only to be resumed on page 170. These stories are separated by an indentation, but the author almost a expects the reader to remember everything read. I found myself having to search ...more
Mindaugas Biliauskas
Melancholiškas pasakojimas apie indėnu gyvenima rezervate po II pasaulinio karo. Alkoholizmas, nedarbas, pikti ir godūs baltieji. Niūrus, bet vertas skaitymo romanas.
Jessica
Feb 02, 2016 Jessica rated it it was amazing
After the disappointment of reading House Made of Dawn, I wanted to read an excellent Native American novel and Ceremony turned out to live up to its reputation. The story was powerful, the characters vivid, the description of the landscape beautiful and overall it was just a exceptional journey the reader shares with Tayo.
Charles
Sep 06, 2009 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ceremony is a story of violence and violation; of borders, the space between borders, and transitions; it is a story of recovery and healing; and it is a story that breaks down cultural forms, norms, and containers.

It is the story of Tayo, a mixed-blood veteran of World War II, as he struggles to realign himself in a healthy relationship with the rest of the world. Tayo's experience of post-traumatic stress disorder is skillfully evoked by Silko in passages in which the reader witnesses the fuzz
...more
YangYi
Dec 25, 2007 YangYi rated it really liked it

I loved the smooth montage of time in this book. It is so natural and instinctive, just like real life. At least in my life, I perceive time in content-based manner. I cannot remember happenings based on their dates because they don’t feel important. This perception of time is characteristic of seeing time as memory. It is different from seeing time as a linear progression of repetitive containers (month contains 30-odd days, one day contains 24 hours, one hour contains 60 minutes…). I feel th
...more
Saxon
Jun 05, 2009 Saxon rated it liked it
Shelves: school
The main crux of this novel revolves around the issue of identity. The main character Tayo is back from WW2 where he lost his cousin--who was always a family favorite. As Tayo returns injured and sick, he finds himself at the center of different worlds closely associated with his identity – native American culture, westernized society and the natural world. However, Tayo does not feel entirely apart of any of them since he seems to be simultaneously accepted and rejected by these different world ...more
Ryan
May 21, 2014 Ryan rated it really liked it
This book started unevenly (I thought about giving it 4 stars for that reason), but by page 60 it was absolutely compelling.

This is a beautifully written story about Tayo, a half-white, half-Laguna Native American who grew up on the reservation in New Mexico. He was raised by his loveless aunt, served in the Pacific in WWII, and was a POW.

Most of the story is how he uses ancient stories and ceremonies to overcome the trauma of his childhood, the war, alcoholism, and the racism he still faces (b
...more
Luanne Castle
May 29, 2016 Luanne Castle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, history
A classic must-read.
Downward
Jun 14, 2015 Downward rated it really liked it
This novel presents inteesting parallels between the PTSD of returning soldiers from WW2 and the PTSD invoked by the colonization of native lands and cultures in America. Our protagonist, Tayo, is both a World War 2 vet and an American Indian. Though culturally, he is an American Indian, he is also half white - something that isolates him from his Indian friends, but also provides another parallel when dealing with his ethnic erasure when he wears his military uniform. White men reapect him sudd ...more
Fran
Apr 11, 2014 Fran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first thirty or so pages were hard to get into, but after that it was compelling. (That's why only 4 stars.) Beautiful writing about a WW2 veteran, an outsider in his Pueblo community (his mother had him out of wedlock and is of mixed ancestry). So much here about PTSD and the place of the Native American community 'in the world' and Native American veterans trying to make sense of enormously dislocating experiences. I loved the landscape and the healing work.
Lizzy
Nov 12, 2014 Lizzy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
School books do not hold my interest these days :(
Annie
May 04, 2016 Annie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko, is hugely confusing but full of wisdom for readers who can slow down long enough to absorb it—which means that I probably missed a lot of what this book had to tell me. I have a feeling, though, that one reading, even for slower readers, is not enough for this tale of a Laguna veteran of World War II who needs to reconnect with his place in the world. The narrative is weighted with meaning, peppered with stories in verse from Laguna lore. No wonder critics and r ...more
John Tipper
Feb 16, 2016 John Tipper rated it it was amazing
A great example of 20th Century Native American Literature from the Laguna author. It takes place in the 1940s when Tayo, the main character, returns from the Pacific Theater, suffering "battle fatique." The Army doctors put him in a LA mental hospital, where he has nightmares, horrific memories, even nausea. He cries a lot too. He had witnessed the death of a close, talented family member, Rocky, in the "big white man's war."
Once discharged from the hospital, Tayo goes to the Laguna Pueblo. Arm
...more
Matthew
Nov 13, 2014 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: college
Sign up for Major Modern Writers! Where you read a couple pages and your professor reads the rest. ^_^
Mac
Nov 13, 2014 Mac rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Others have given great synopses so I'll stay away from that. I'd only be copying from goodreads and Wikipedia anyway. ;-)

I've read this book a number of times and had it read to me once as well. I remember the first time being overwhelmed by the pain Tayo is in. I was a very troubled young adult and it was too close for me. When the threads started to come together and become a tapestry I relaxed, then I felt some understanding of myself and my problems and I was eventually able to find ways ou
...more
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500 Great Books B...: Ceremony - Leslie Marmon Silko 3 20 Jan 30, 2015 11:19AM  
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Ceremony Part 3 1 12 Apr 11, 2013 01:43PM  
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Leslie Marmon Silko (born Leslie Marmon; born March 5, 1948) is a Native American writer of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, and one of the key figures in the First Wave of what literary critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renaissance.

Silko was a debut recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Grant, now known as the "Genius Grant", in 1981 and the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas Life
...more
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“But as long as you remember what you have seen, then nothing is gone. As long as you remember, it is part of this story we have together.” 1857 likes
“You don't have anything
if you don't have the stories.”
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