Gardens in the Dunes Background

Gardens in the Dunes Background

Leslie Marmon Silko is a writer and novelist born on March 5, 1948 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is of Laguna ancestry, a Native American tribe based in New Mexico, and thus her literary works are heavily inspired by her culture. As a child, her grandmother passed on traditional stories and customs of the Laguna people, which further inspired her creatively and intellectually. Silko’s foray into the literary realm began with the publication of her short story, The Man to Send Rain Clouds. She continued to write incessantly; some of her works include Laguna Woman: Poems (1974), Ceremony (1977), and Storyteller (1981).

In 1999, Silko published a novel entitled Gardens in the Dunes, which tells the story of a teenage girl named Indigo who is part of the Sand Lizard tribe. When she is abducted from her home by white soldiers, she is forced to become “civilized” by assimilating into an entirely different culture. Indigo is adopted into a new family to expedite the process, but it turns out that she has much more to teach than to learn. In this unbelievably heartwarming story, Silko bridges the gap between two societies that are constantly diametrically opposed.

Upon its publication, Gardens in the Dunes garnered positive reviews for its provocative depiction of a girl at war between two worlds. Suzanna Ruta of The New York Times describes the book as a “rich, intriguing, irritating mix of myth, allegory, Victorian children's tale and adventure yarn, laced with readings in Southwestern history, early Christian theology and Celtic archeology.” After the success of Gardens, Silko published one more novel in 2010, The Turquoise Ledge, a memoir that details her childhood living on a Native American reservation.

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