Literature and War Readalong September 2017: Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel Ceremony is the second Native American novel we’re reading for this year’s Literature and War Readalong 2017. I truly hope it’s more accessible than the first we read N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn. I struggled quite a bit with it as you can see here.

Leslie Marmon Silko was born in 1948, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is of mixed heritage, Laguna Pueblo, Mexican and white. She grew up on a Laguna Pueblo Reservation and continued to live there later in life.

Ceremony immediately became an American classic after its publication in 1977. It especially spoke to the Vietnam war veterans who related to the novels’ exploration of a veteran’s way of healing.

Here is the first sentence of Ceremony:

Tayo didn’t sleep well that night. He tossed in the cold iron bed, and the coiled springs kept squeaking even after he lay still again, calling up humid dreams of black night and loud voices rolling him over and over again like debris caught in a flood.

And some details and the blurb for those who want to join:

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, 243 pages, US 1977, WWII

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 Reservation. He is deeply scarred by his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese and further wounded by the rejection he encounters from his people. Only by immersing himself in the Indian past can he begin to regain the peace that was taken from him. Masterfully written, filled with the somber majesty of Pueblo myth, Ceremony is a work of enduring power. The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition contains a new preface by the author and an introduction by Larry McMurtry.


The discussion starts on Friday, September 29.

Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2017, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.

21 thoughts on “Literature and War Readalong September 2017: Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

  1. I think I’m in a a similar position to Guy just now as my head’s not in the right place for something like this. It does sound compelling though. I do hope it goes better for you than the Momaday.

  2. This sounds like such an impressive book. I look forward to reading everyone’s cometary on it.

    The fact that its protagonist is a native American is unique in itself.

  3. Looks so wonderful, Caroline! The blending of war and its aftermath with culture and native American legends – I haven’t heard of a book like this before. I don’t know whether I can join, but I will look forward to hearing your thoughts and the thoughts of other participants. Happy reading!

  4. Pingback: Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts – My Book Strings

  5. Loved her Gardens in the Dunes last year, so I will aim for this one, but I had forgotten about it, so I might end up being late after all. Hope you enjoy it more than you enjoyed the Momaday. I suspect Silko’s will be best read in a burst…

  6. I never did finish the Momday–I really struggled with it and still have it sitting on my nightstand as I am so close to the end. I am not quite sure I am up to this one, though I might take a peek. I am, however, in the mood for some Native American literature, though I might pick up something by Louise Erdrich. I just finished reading a mystery by Dana Stabenow set in Alaska and the protagonist is an Aleut woman, which I really loved. It was a good mystery with a little complexity and talked about the issues of the area–I suspect the other books will be much the same.

    • I can’t blame you. It was hard work. This one is much better but still a challenge. Nothing like Louise Erdrich whose writing I really like. I think I downloaded the first Dana Stabenow a while ago, so I’m very glad to hear it’s good.

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