Kindred Octavia Butler


Kindred by Octavia Butler is a time travel slave narrative. Yes, you heard that right. One person in one of my many English classes said, “So it’s like a sci-fi Beloved?”

Not exactly. Actually, not at all but if that description will get you to read this outstanding novel then, yes. It’s like a sci-fi Beloved. Go read it. Now. I’ll wait.

Octavia Butler wrote books publishers and booksellers had a hard time categorizing. Publishers and booksellers came up with category fiction or genres (romance, sci-fi, mysteries, westerns, etc.) to help sell more books. The books published in categories or shelved under category headings are no better or worse than books found in the literary fiction section.

At the beginning of her career, Butler was solidly in the sci-fi genre. It has only been in the last decade or so that she has been moved to literary fiction. Don’t hold that against her books. They are outstanding no matter where they are shelved.

Kindred tells the story of a modern day woman from California whose life is linked to a slave owner from the antebellum South. Pulled back and forth from modern day to past, the main character, Dana, struggles to survive a life split between two very different realities.

Kindred is plausible enough to be terrifying. Butler writes the details such that it seems possible that this really happened. And that it could happen to you. That you too could be pulled back to some unknown time without warning. And not in a romantic way like Outlander. There is no Jamie here.

Read it. Will it change your life? Possibly. This might be the only book I will ever say that about.

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