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Ceremony

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  13,781 Ratings  ·  1,035 Reviews
Thirty 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 Reservation. He is deeply scarred by his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese and further wounded by the rejectio ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 1977)
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Zanna
Jan 11, 2014 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
...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
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
Jan 25, 2008 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
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 gre
...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
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
...more
Sarah Anne
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
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
...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
Jessika
Jul 29, 2009 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
Madeleine
Feb 06, 2008 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
...more
Sylvia
Aug 13, 2007 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
Alex
May 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Amanda
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: diverse-works
I didn't know what to really expect from this book, and as it continued I still didn't really know what to expect. It was more difficult to get through than I anticipated, since the first half of the book constantly switched narratives without any warning, and some events were left for you to infer. But the second half was more consistent and focused mostly on the main character, and went faster. There were parts and lines I really enjoyed, but overall this just wasn't the book for me. I think 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
Grady McCallie
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
Amélie
Apr 05, 2014 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 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
...more
James
Feb 16, 2013 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
Jessica
Jan 04, 2016 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.
YangYi
Dec 25, 2007 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
...more
Charles
Aug 11, 2009 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
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
Eric Schmidt
Jan 18, 2017 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
...more
Saxon
May 18, 2009 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
Jack Wolfe
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The sheer amount of heartbreak in "Ceremony"... Is almost too much. Here are a select few of the disturbing things that await unsuspecting readers who've heard the book is pretty damn good:

- War... The Bataan Death March, to be exact
- The death of friends and family
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Genocide
- Poverty
- Depression, guilt, shame of your ancestry, etc
- Sickness and nausea and vomiting
- Sudden extreme acts of violence
- Isolation from your community, and the world at large
- The fact th
...more
Zachary Fletcher
“‘She taught me this above all else: things which don’t shift or grow are dead things.’”
-pg. 116

This novel followed me for a long time, nagging at my conscience, quietly compelling me to read it, and after years of putting it off I finally gave in and obeyed.

Ceremony first came to my attention in college, when I purchased it for a lit class only to have it pulled from the syllabus in the interest of time--a baffling decision in hindsight, given that this book is far more interesting than most o
...more
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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.” 1845 likes
“You don't have anything
if you don't have the stories.”
1658 likes
More quotes…