Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ceremony” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  13,093 Ratings  ·  976 Reviews
The great Native American Novel of a battered veteran returning home to heal his mind and spirit

More than thirty-five years since its original publication, Ceremony remains one of the most profound and moving works of Native American literature, a novel that is itself a ceremony of healing. Tayo, a World War II veteran of mixed ancestry, returns to the Laguna Pueblo Reserv
ebook, 265 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 1977)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ceremony, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Georganne Spruce I really don't know. You could probably Google it and find out.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 11, 2014 Zanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
"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
Jan 25, 2008 Nomy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
On the inside back flap of this edition of Ceremony, there is a series of praise quotes, including this from the New York Time: "Without question Leslie Marmon Silko is the most accomplished Native American writer of her generation. . . " On the back cover, Sherman Alexie writes, "Ceremony is the greatest novel in Native American literature."

I get all tense with exasperation when I read these comments. But then Sherman goes on to say what needs to be said about this novel: "It is one of the gre
Richard Derus
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
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
Afro Madonna ✨
"But the effects were hidden, evident only in the sterility of their art, which continued to feed off the vitality of other cultures, and in the dissolution of their consciousness into dead objects: the plastic and neon, the concrete and steel.Hollow and lifeless as a witchery clay figure. And what little still remained to white people was shriveled like a seed hoarded too long, shrunken past its time, and split open now, to expose a fragile, pale leaf stem, perfectly formed and dead.
3.5 stars
Jul 29, 2009 Jessika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 13, 2007 Sylvia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 06, 2008 Madeleine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indigenous-voice
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
May 08, 2015 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 2016-bingo
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
May 05, 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
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
Grady McCallie
Jan 22, 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
Apr 05, 2014 Amélie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrew Bishop
Apr 20, 2007 Andrew Bishop rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2013 James rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 04, 2016 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mindaugas Biliauskas
Melancholiškas pasakojimas apie indėnu gyvenima rezervate po II pasaulinio karo. Alkoholizmas, nedarbas, pikti ir godūs baltieji. Niūrus, bet vertas skaitymo romanas.
Sarah Anne
Review to come.

He cried at the relief he felt at finally seeing the pattern, the way all the stories fit together - the old stories, the war stories, their stories - to become the story that was still being told. He was not crazy; he had never been crazy. He had only seen and heard the world as it always was: no boundaries, only transitions through all distances and time.
Dec 25, 2007 YangYi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Aug 11, 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
Eric Schmidt
Jan 18, 2017 Eric Schmidt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some days I feel like my real education begins when I shut down the statistical computing program for the day and sit down to read good fiction.

I've read Ceremony before. But I knew this year that I needed to read it again. The book opens with a startling claim on the part of the hero's grandmother: "The only cure is a good ceremony." Think about that. The only cure. That means that no matter what crosses we have to bear, or what evils or witchery have befallen us, we can only heal through narr
May 18, 2009 Saxon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 16, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 02, 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.
Jan 03, 2016 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who knows me knows I have a gigantic crush on this book. I've read it 4 or 5 times now, and every time I comprehend more of the intricacy of its form. It's a novel, but it's also a poem and a history and many other things. The imagery is so rich that it doesn't need a plot, and yet the circular and self-referential ceremony of it all is so beautiful that I could start it over again right now. Just a book everyone should read. Probably twice.
Jul 08, 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. ^_^
Nov 03, 2014 Lizzy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
School books do not hold my interest these days :(
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
500 Great Books B...: Ceremony - Leslie Marmon Silko 3 23 Jan 30, 2015 11:19AM  
Landscape = redemption in this great American novel 1 13 Jun 28, 2013 08:51AM  
Native American F...: Ceremony Part 3 15 23 Apr 12, 2013 08:05AM  
Ceremony Part 3 1 12 Apr 11, 2013 01:43PM  
  • The Way to Rainy Mountain
  • Winter in the Blood
  • The Grass Dancer
  • Tracks
  • Solar Storms
  • God Is Red: A Native View of Religion
  • Indian Killer
  • In Mad Love and War
  • Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women
  • Waterlily
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 about Leslie Marmon Silko...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“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.” 1852 likes
“You don't have anything
if you don't have the stories.”
More quotes…