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Almanac of the Dead Paperback – November 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 3rd edition (November 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140173196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140173192
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Silko's ambitious but meandering novel untertakes an epic narrative, heavy with intrigue and carnage, about an apocalyptic Native American insurrection. Author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

When the ex-mistress of a sinister cocaine wholesaler takes a job as secretary to a Native American clairvoyant who works the TV talk show circuit, she begins transcribing an ancient manuscript that foretells the second coming of Quetzalcoatl and the violent end of white rule in the Americas. Witches and shamans across the country are working to fulfill this prophecy, but the capitalist elite is mounting a dirty war of its own, with weapons such as heroin and cocaine. This novel belongs on the same shelf with Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo ( LJ 10/1/72) and Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975). Occult conspiracies multiply at a dizzying pace, and eco-radicals actually do blow up the Glen Canyon Dam. Silko succeeds more as a storyteller than a novelist: the book is full of memorable vignettes, but the frame story of apocalyptic racial warfare is clumsy comic book fare. Recommended for collections of magic realism and Native American fiction.
- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch . Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Parts that really piss me off.
Angela Covalt
More like an extended take by Flannery O'Connor from a Native American perspective.
Tidewater
I was able to relate to the story and the plot is believable.
Nathan R. Cowlishaw

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Lori McClure-Wade on May 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In much the same way that her brilliant and beautiful 1st novel Ceremony is intended to function as a ceremony for its readers, Almanac is intended to function as a a prophetic document. Silko's text is inspired by, and meant to serve as an extension of, ancient Mayan codices--books which keep exact and detailed record of Time and attempt to prophesy based on this knowledge. Time is as much a character in this "novel" as the Land is.

Of course, Silko doesn't lay all this out for her reader, but the clues are there. The ancient notebooks that old Yoeme leaves in the hands of the twins Lecha & Zeta are directly inspired by & directly refer to the codices. Twins themselves are of mythological significance in Mayan (and many other Southwestern) cosmologies. Almost every Native American character in this novel can be read as a mythological being in disguise. They all have dual functions, especially the female characters.
Silko has said that the anger which can be so overwhelming in her text does not come from her. She sees herself as more of a conduit for a much more ancient and dangerous rage. What began as a project about the seedy underbelly of Modern Tucson quickly transphormed itself to a work of mythological scope and political indictment.

This novel is demanding, complex, and mind-blowing in scope. It is by no means a casual read, nor is it sympathetic towards its reader. It requires things of you that typical novels don't. It even demands you abandon your theory of what a novel is and does. But if you are willing to follow Silko's narrative & thematic trails, the vision she reveals for you is truly astounding.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am a Native American woman, and I found this book empowering, depressing and very raw. I can see people that I know in the characters in the book as well as having had some of the same experiences. The book gives a realistic glimpse of a small population of Native American experiences. It shows how hard our world really is, and how Natives struggle through their lives knowing that there is no alternative. This book shows the other, real side to the "noble savage" myth.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Zentao on October 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Wow, what a concept...we finally have a Native American stream-of-consciousness novel! Enough of these white-man's dreams like The Tunnel or Gravity's Rainbow, we finally are letting some other voices tell the other side of our sorry travels.
Dense. Jumpy. And a few things you might wish you never read. But most of this novel is gripping and, quite sadly so, possibly the truth. If you've read the white man's tales listed above then you really should check this trip out.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Tidewater on September 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
This novel is one of the great novels of the 20th century--IMHO. It ranks with Joyce's "Ulysses" in dissecting a culture, this one of North America (sans Canada). There are lessons here, and the writing cuts to the bone.

Not F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway, to be sure. More like an extended take by Flannery O'Connor from a Native American perspective.

To read (and re-read) "The Almanac of the Dead," "Under the Volcano," (Malcolm Lowry) "Wise Blood," (O'Connor) and "Moby Dick" (guess who) is to obtain a comprehensive view of America from the underside. And the underside, as Carl Jung was at pains to point out, is where the collective unconscious is at work.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Zane Ivy on September 4, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not nearly as complex as some would like to make it. The "land" interacts with people to manifest its spirits. Those who are "cut off" from the land, become alienated and "alien." 500 years is not so long in the grand scheme of things. What is yet to come is what has been before, a people who are shaped by the spirits of the Americas.
Her novel might not make some people "happy." It certainly isn't your romantic "Indian story" (that so many people seem to want). The lives it depicts in fiction aren't far from the convoluted inner workings of some of the indigenous movements here in the Americas (the Zapatista, AIM, etc.) nor from the "cultural elite" who rot in their penthouses in the monuments of Western civilization.
It might not be an "easy" read, but it is certainly an engaging one, and a well-crafted one. Highly recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
then again- how often do you get to read about airliners being brought down with static electricity shot from a rabbit's paw? or mulling over what Marx & Engles might have been like as lovers? or what unfettered global trade is doing for all the industries of human misery- organ theft, snuff films, exile-trafficking? Silko wavers in the midst of all the confusion from time to time- but this is marathon writing and the occassional stylisitic speed wobbles are understandable & easily overlooked when so much else is whirling about in the air. Social history has never read so well, come across as so urgent and yet kept its own figures and proponents so unromanticized. Overall a powerful primer for the revolution that will not be televised (all the lights will be out after all) but might wake you up with its echoes as it rolls down your street...
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