Go to New York State Writers Institute
Native American Novelist
Leslie Marmon Silko
Leslie Marmon Silko
January 30, 2007

4:15 pm Seminar
Assembly Hall, Campus Center

8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall
Performing Arts Center


Leslie Marmon Silko, novelist, essayist, and poet, is a major figure of the Native American literary renaissance. Born in Albuquerque of Pueblo, Anglo, and Mexican ancestry, Silko grew up at Laguna Pueblo where she learned the traditional stories that provide the mythic foundation of her work.

Silko's first novel was "Ceremony" (1977), the tale of a "half-breed" World War II veteran and his battle against personal demons. This year, Penguin Classics will publish a 30th Anniversary Edition of "Ceremony," featuring a new introduction by bestselling author Larry McMurtry. "Ceremony" received the American Book Award, sold three quarters of a million copies, sparked a revolution in Native American literature, and has remained a major influence on younger generations of writers.

"one of the greatest novels of any time and place." - Sherman Alexie

The book is widely hailed as a classic of 20th century American literature in both the general and academic press.

[Silko is] "the most accomplished Indian writer of her generation" [and "Ceremony"] "one of the most realized works of fiction devoted to Indian life that has ever been written in this country." - "New York Times" (1977)

"'Ceremony' is an exceptional novel--a cause for celebration." - "Washington Post"

Other books by Silko include "Laguna Woman: Poems" (1974), the story collection "Storyteller" (1981), the novel "Almanac of the Dead" (1991), the essay collection, "Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit: Essays" (1996), and the novel "Gardens in the Dunes" (1999).

"Almanac of the Dead" is the fictional story of a modern-day Native American insurrection. The "New York Times Book Review" said, "This wild, jarring, graphic, mordant, prodigious book embodies the bold wish to encompass in a novel the cruelty of contemporary America.... [The book] burns at an apocalyptic pitch- passionate indictment, defiant augury, bravura storytelling." The "Voice Literary Supplement" reviewer proclaimed it, "the Great American novel."

"Gardens in the Dunes" is the story of two Native American girls forcibly placed in government-run schools to become "civilized." The "Publishers Weekly" reviewer said, "Silko's integration of glorious details into her many vivid settings and intense characters is a triumph of the storyteller's art, which this gifted and magical novelist has never demonstrated more satisfyingly than she does here."

Silko received the Pushcart Prize for poetry in 1977, and a MacArthur Foundation award in 1983. She is presently writing a new novel, "Blue Seven," and a memoir about the rattlesnakes that live under her dining room floor.

MacArthur Foundation