"Demanding but confident and beautifully written" (Boston Globe), this is the story of a young Native American returning to his reservation after surviving the horrors of captivity as a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II. Drawn to his Indian past and its traditions, his search for comfort and resolution becomes a ritual--a curative ...
"Demanding but confident and beautifully written" (Boston Globe), this is the story of a young Native American returning to his reservation after surviving the horrors of captivity as a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II. Drawn to his Indian past and its traditions, his search for comfort and resolution becomes a ritual--a curative ceremony that defeats his despair.
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Multiple themes of environmental and cultural loss and renewal/resilience along with the superb writing make this a fantastic novel.
Aug 1, 2007
Of Ceremony and Story
Leslie Marmon Silko's 1977 novel focuses upon a World War II Native American veteran Tayo's return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation in New Mexico, and his alienation from the pueblo culture as a person of mixed blood. The novel traces the protagonist's descent into alcoholism, self-contempt, and abrupt violence, and his eventual reintegration into the matrix of native culture through renewed ritual and ceremonial practices, and the agency of its female characters. In fact, the novel reasserts the primacy of the Indian storytelling tradition (in its role as culture- and history-bearer) through its very presence, and Silko's writing is imbued with the reverence for the land which is so integral to native belief. Before Louise Erdrich and Sherman Alexie, this novel established Silko as a superlative author. The book has an incantatory power in its slow, leisurely rhythms and its ability to transport the reader to the American Southwest. It is a pained and beautiful novel whose relevance is even more timely in this moment of global ecological crisis
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