Monday, 20 March 2017

Review of 'Ceremony' by Leslie Marmon Silko

Review of 'Ceremony' by Leslie Marmon Silko

This was the most eye-opening and thought-inspiring book that I've read in a long time. It's also the first adult book that I've ever read that discusses the life of a Native American. This is honestly a novel which I think we should all read. It discusses good and evil, life and death, war and peace and all the grey areas in between in a variety of different forms. As well as narrative we have poems, which are more like oral ceremonies of tradition. These intertwine with the main plot of the novel as it draws towards a close. 

Ceremony's main character is Tayo, a young man suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after returning fighting in World War II. He is consumed by guilt after the deaths of his cousin Rocky and uncle Josiah. After the war, Tayo spends a few years in a mental institution, trying to recover from the hallucinations and physical symptoms of his PTSD. He gets a little better, and returns to his home with his auntie, but is by no means anywhere near recovered.

Tayo has been an outsider his whole life. His mother abandoned him when he was young, and his father was one of a possible myriad of white men, making him mixed race. Although he lives with his auntie and Grandma, he knows he is not respected by the community they live in as being a 'true' member of the family. 

He turns to alcohol to deal with the trauma of being a war veteran, as do his closest friends. The story of Tayo's recovery from being on the battlefront is interspersed with memories from the war, and his childhood and stories from folklore. The novel in itself becomes a sort of 'ceremony' of recovery. Tayo uses old Pueblo methods of healing to help move forward, and the modern story of the war is bound up in these.

I would definitely recommend reading this! Have you read it? What did you think?

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