Stunningly beautiful, stark and heartbreaking. Leslie Marmon Silko weaves different worlds together in a tapestry so full of history, pain, and heritage that you walk away reeling.
Tayo, a Native American from the Laguna Pueblo reservation returns from World War 2 so scarred by what he has seen and lost that he knows he will never return to the Tayo he was before he followed in his cousin’s footsteps and joined the army. We would call what he has PTSD today, but Ceremony goes way beyond Tayo, war, and PTSD. Silko portrays Tayo’s despair, unique but shared with his friends who also made it back in somewhat one piece; a despair that they drown in alcohol and fights. But this despair is also part of the reservation itself, flourishing in the shanty houses that the authorities tear down and the inhabitants build back up again, and the drugs and alcohol that plague the areas.
Tayo decides to fight the darkness by visting Betonie, a healer, and in order to participate in an ancient therapy to help him come back to life so to speak. Steeped in Native American imagery, poetry, and stories, Tayo’s ceremony and his journey back home teach us about tradition and destinies, and how it can be possible to combine the ancient world with the one that we live in today.
Ceremony is so beautifully written that it will make your heart ache and weep at times. It is not a book that you can devour in one sitting, but one that requires your full attention. It will stay put in your mind for a while after you finish, a million questions on your tongue, a million answers to find. Leslie Marmon Silko is such a talented writer and I can’t wait to dive into more of her work now!
I read Ceremony as part of a reading challenge created by @bookish.harpy on Instagram. The first prompt was to read a book by a Native American and this was my choice, as I am trying to also read as I also wanted to read something written by a Native American woman. I am fully committed to reading a majority of diverse literature this year, and sharing them all with you, and would love to hear your recommendations!