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Ceremony

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  10,503 ratings  ·  777 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 513 books — 483 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 928 books — 1,372 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Zanna
"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
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 Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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
Jess
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
Kevin Quinley
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
Poingu
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
Sylvia
Aug 15, 2007 Sylvia rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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 4 of 5 stars
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
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
Charles
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

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
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
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
Downward
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
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
School books do not hold my interest these days :(
Matthew
Sign up for Major Modern Writers! Where you read a couple pages and your professor reads the rest. ^_^
Mac
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
Amber
I liked a lot of the themes explored in this book (the power of storytelling, race relations, how war impacts a person, how one finds healing/redemption, etc.), but it was such a fucking slog to get through. Despite discussing the above themes pretty well, the book was boring has hell. Part of the problem was that Tayo never grew on me as a character. I mean, Silko did a really great job describing his PTSD, his fucked up family situation (his mother and passive aggressive aunt, namely), and how ...more
Quinn
Nov 30, 2009 Quinn added it
Ceremony
By Leslie Marmon Silko
Review by: Quinn Butterfield


Leslie Marmon Silko's book Ceremony is a heavy and depressing book filled with hidden gems. The novel follows Tayo a young Native American World War II veteran who is dealing with the many struggles that weigh him down through out the book. After returning to his home on the Laguna Pueblo reservation from being a prisoner of the Japanese, Tayo struggles with post traumatic stress and the constant feeling of alienation. Unlike the other r
...more
Kristin Gleeson
Like many things Native American you can't approach this with a linear mind. There are cycles and spatial aspects to the narrative that lead the reader on a special journey that travels the sunny and arid geographic landscape of Northern New Mexico and the interior landscape of myth and ceremony. The novel's focus is Tayo, a returning WWII soldier of half Laguna half white heritage. Stigmitized by his illegitimate birth and an alcoholic mother, Tayo was raised by his auntie, uncle and grandmothe ...more
Melissa Rudder
Jul 07, 2008 Melissa Rudder rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: T.J.
Shelves: master-s-exam
Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony comes together like a vivid patchwork quilt, blazing with human vulnerability, violence, tradition, and love. As a reader, I was quickly engrossed in the text and carried away by her unraveling tale of social redemption.

Ceremony is the story of a racially mixed Native American man, Tayo, who returns from fighting World War II struggling with post traumatic stress disorder, survival's guilt, resentment toward the America that has returned to his racist rejection of
...more
Andrea
Impossible not to compare this novel to 'House Made of Dawn' by N. Scott Momaday. In fact, when I started reading 'Ceremony', I couldn't help feeling that Tayo's story was an immitation of Abel's story. But a cover blurb by Momaday endorses Silko's "extraordinary novel" and praises her talent as "real and remarkable" so I took Momaday's advice and read on.

No, it's not an ersatz 'HMOD', but more like an echo of the same theme. Apart from the obvious similarites in the main plot (Battle-fatigued
...more
Zoe Brooks
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...

The only cure
I know
is a good ceremony,
that's what she said.

So begins this remarkable book. It is at its simplest a tale about a young native American survivor of a Japanese death march being cured of his post-traumatic stress by an extended healing ceremony, which puts him back in touch with his roots. Central to the Pueblo
...more
Reema
I was blown away by Silko's storytelling prowess: unflinching, compassionate, and relentlessly weaving traditional storytelling with contemporary form. i loved how she portrayed the violence and despair of a community, and traced it to historical causes. all the while, characters were still very much complex and vibrant. her portrayals of racism are complex too, implicating everyone so that there are no pure heroes or villains in the book, but more a question of how much any of us fall prey to l ...more
Jo Ann
I originally wanted to read this novel because of the setting...the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, and Acoma, Albuquerque, etc. Because I've seen and appreciated much of the terrain, it made the story more interesting; however, the story is hearbreakingly wonderful. Tanyo, a young half-bred Indian returns from World War II, traumatized, barely intact, physically, emotionally, spiritually, from what he has endured in the war and in a Japanese prison camp. His buddies who made it home are much the s ...more
Erin
Really good book. My classmates had major issues following the timeline because it jumped around so much, but I didn't have a problem. Loved how vivid Silko's imagery was, and especially enjoyed her extensive use of color. I like being able to see what I read, and she even made me feel things (in the tactile sense).

This tugged at my heart too - it's set in Laguna Pueblo, which is where my Native American heritage comes from. It was kind of surreal to hear all about these places that I've visite
...more
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Ceremony Part 3 1 11 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.” 1842 likes
“You don't have anything
if you don't have the stories.”
1670 likes
More quotes…