Synopses & Reviews
In its extraordinary range of character and culture, Almanac of the Dead is fiction on the grand scale. The acclaimed author of Ceremony has undertaken a weaving of ideas and lives, fate and history, passion and conquest in an attempt to re-create the moral history of the Americas, told from the point of view of the conquered, not the conquerors.
"This wild, jarring, graphic, mordant, prodigious book embodies the bold wish to encompass in a novel the cruelty of contemporary America, a nation founded on the murder and deracination of the continent's native peoples....Appearing on the eve of the quincentennial of Columbus's arrival in the Americas, [this book] burns at an apocalyptic pitch passionate indictment, defiant augury, bravura storytelling." The New York Times Book Review
"The tragedy and the rage at tragedy that underwrite Almanac of the Dead are very real. They have spawned in Silko's mind an epic of collapse and retribution and implied regeneration....The reader grips the edges of the book as though they were the steering wheel of a vehicle careening out of control." The New Republic
"The author's sentences have a drive and a sting to them. But the receptacle of her crowded, raging, enormously long book swirls with half-digested revulsion, half-explained characters and, a white elitist must add, more than a little self-righteousness." Time
"When I was a girl, writers mainly Norman Mailer used to talk about 'the Great American Novel,' and wonder which of them would master her....What a joke on all those big-mouthed New York guys: This one was written by a woman, and a Native American at that." Voice Literary Supplement
"...one of the most ambitious novels of the past two decades...Silko deserves every one of the major awards and they are numerous that she has received." Barry Milligan, Hungry Mind Review
About the Author
Leslie Marmon Silko was born in 1948 to a family whose ancestry includes Mexican, Laguna Indian, and European forebears. She has said that her writing has at its core “the attempt to identify what it is to be a half-breed or mixed-blood person.” As she grew up on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation, she learned the stories and culture of the Laguna people from her great-grandmother and other female relatives. After receiving her B. A. in English at the University of New Mexico, she enrolled in the University of New Mexico law school but completed only three semesters before deciding that writing and storytelling, not law, were the means by which she could best promote justice. She married John Silko in 1970. Prior to the writing of Ceremony
, she published a series of short stories, including “The Man to Send Rain Clouds.” She also authored a volume of poetry, Laguna Woman: Poems
, for which she received the Pushcart Prize for Poetry.
In 1973, Silko moved to Ketchikan, Alaska, where she wrote Ceremony. Initially conceived as a comic story abut a mother’s attempts to keep her son, a war veteran, away from alcohol, Ceremony gradually transformed into an intricate meditation on mental disturbance, despair, and the power of stories and traditional culture as the keys to self-awareness and, eventually, emotional healing. Having battled depression herself while composing her novel, Silko was later to call her book “a ceremony for staying sane.” Silko has followed the critical success of Ceremony with a series of other novels, including Storyteller, Almanac for the Dead, and Gardens in the Dunes. Nevertheless, it was the singular achievement of Ceremony that first secured her a place among the first rank of Native American novelists. Leslie Marmon Silko now lives on a ranch near Tucson, Arizona.