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Ceremony

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  18,855 ratings  ·  1,492 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 Group (first published 1977)
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Zanna
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 500gbw, favourites, native
"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
Whitney Atkinson
3.5 stars

This book was so gorgeous, I think I would have loved it had I not been speed reading/skimming it for class. I just missed so much and was so confused by it in the end, which is sad because it is a REALLY interesting and eye-opening story about Native Americans, written by a Native American. The criticism of colonialism and white men taking the natives' land and just being so violent in the first place to start wars was really intriguing to read about from this perspective, and I think
...more
Julie Christine
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 g
...more
Nomy
Jan 25, 2008 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
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
lark benobi
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
Richard Derus
Apr 18, 2014 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
Spencer Orey
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Brutal and hard reading at points, but wow the language is magnificent and the theme of healing overall and the escape from white supremacy, trauma, and capitalism is inspiring. Absolutely brilliant overall, super recommended.
Olivia
Jul 29, 2019 added it
Shelves: native-american
This is a first for me. In the nearly 7 years I've been on here, I've never written a review like this. I'm actually not sure how many stars, if any to give this book - not because I can't make up my mind but because this book is just so difficult to review.

Plot: Tayo is half Native American, half white. He has returned from the war and is suffering from PTSD. Tayo is an outcast because of his mixed-race heritage. His not being accepted has really taken an emotional toll on him. Since he's come
...more
Afro Madonna
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
"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
...more
Sarah
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tayo is a World War II veteran who suffers from what we would call PTSD. His grandmother calls in a medicine man to heal him and thus begins Tayo's journey back to himself. We spend a good portion of the book with Tayo's life before things start to improve for him so there's actually quite a bit of what he experiences that we must also experience, from his time in a mental institution to his first discussions with the medicine man, who I actually liked very much :) This portion of the book is qu ...more
Kevin Quinley
Feb 26, 2008 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
Jul 29, 2009 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
Claire
I discovered Leslie Marmon Silko after first reading her wonderful memoir The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir parts of which came back to me as I read this astonishing novel. And on finishing her memoir I learned that this is the book she is most well known for, so had to read it as soon as I could find a copy.

Having got through the slightly terrifying ending, which if I'd had time to stop and think, I'd have realised I needn't have worried as I have been reading through a ceremony, guided by Pueblo m
...more
Madi ~☆TheBookNerdDiaries☆~
I hate this book with everything I have. This was the absolute worst book I have EVER read. Maybe that's why I put off reviewing this book for so long. I just don't want to ever have to pick up this book again, let alone revisit it. Let's just say the day I turned this book in, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted of my shoulders. I was so sick of reading this and as soon as I had taken the final test on it, I dropped it and never finished. I can't remember hating a book this much ever - i ...more
Robert Wechsler
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
This novel is much more than a look at young Native American men shortly after the Second World War and the tension between the traditional/rural and the modern/urban among Native Americans. It is great literature, the best Native American novel I’ve read.

Silko keeps the reader from feeling in any way comfortable in the world she portrays. The past exists with the present, and there is no future to look forward to. It’s a sometimes harrowing novel, in which the reader experiences a good bit of t
...more
Elizabeth☮
This is the kind of book that I think I would appreciate more if I read it in a class. I need someone to walk me through the process and the meaning.

I did finally get the significance of the title when I reached the final chapters. I read about one hundred pages and then I had to stop because I couldn't focus. I'm glad I picked it back up, because this definitely feels similar to what Tayo, the title character, is going through in the course of the novel. The emotional turmoil is real and Silko
...more
Abbie | ab_reads
3.5 stars
Grady
Jan 22, 2015 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
Madeleine
Feb 06, 2008 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
Sylvia
Aug 13, 2007 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
Jessica
Lyrical writing paints a picture of a life shattered by war, coming home to an entire culture shattered by systemic erasure. Tayo is both Laguna and white, a veteran and a second-class citizen, a member of a family and an orphan. He is untethered, but maybe he always has been. His search for his uncle's missing cattle is a search of something to ground him in the world. It's painful and glorious at the same time. ...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
Andrew Bishop
Apr 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Alex
May 08, 2015 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
sweet pea
May 04, 2009 rated it liked it
i had recalled reading this book in a Native American Lit class. clearly, i hadn't. the structure of the book is interesting. the beginning 1/3 made me narcoleptic - i fell asleep at least five times. that said, i understand and appreciate the fractured narrative that matches Tayo's fractured psyche. the issues explored are still quite relative today with the Army recruiting minorities and later have a disregard for returning veteran's mental health. Tayo's quest to root himself in his culture i ...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
Hannah
A new book for my favourites. The beautiful writing and profound insights made me feel so sad, so connected, so much grief, despair and also acceptance all at the same time
Jenn
May 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
9/11/20 - Just re-listened to Ceremony, and it was even better than I had remembered. I love this essential and beautifully written masterpiece: Tayo and his peers are finally treated like equals when they enlist to fight in WWII, and are hailed as heroes during and immediately after their time serving, however, they are eventually relegated to their neglected, second-class citizen position in American society. Regardless of the fact that Tayo is one of the most sensitive and insightful human be ...more
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Read Women: Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko 18 47 Sep 02, 2020 01:36PM  
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Play Book Tag: Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko 4 stars 1 15 Sep 16, 2017 03:17PM  
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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.” 1798 likes
“You don't have anything
if you don't have the stories.”
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