AUTHOR: Octavia Butler
PUBLISHED DATE: June 1979
Kindred is a remarkable novel by the late great Octavia Butler, and finally upon finally I have read it.
And what a timely time to have just read this epic and groundbreaking book as the controversy stirs around Ben Winters who recently received rave reviews from The New York Times for his novel Underground Airlines which hit shelves yesterday, July 5. Many have criticized Winters for receiving praise and a major movie deal for his book whilst TV, Hollywood, and mainstream publishing continues to ignore that the brilliant Octavia Butler already tackled this theme in Kindred nearly 40 years ago. The New York Times has heralded Winters as "brave" for tackling this theme. Criticism from social media was swift and unforgiving. When Winters was asked if he'd even read Kindred by Octavia Butler, he revealed that he's never even heard of Butler.
How in the world do you even tackle such a topic without going to the source of this topic? Without reading the works of Butler, Due, Morrison...like, I think my brain is actually freezing at the thought of it! Back in college I saw the 1993 movie, Sankofa. No doubt this movie was inspired by this book. I think I watched it back to back.
Kindred is the story of Dana, a 26 year old writer from California who, after moving to her new home, becomes dizzy, faints, and finds herself on the plantation where her ancestors - a cruel white slave master and her African American slave mother live. Dana, herself, married to a white man in her contemporary life, who is also a writer, must navigate this very violent climate, and study the complexities of race, interracial marriage, the everyday life of slaves at that time, and then toggle that reality with her present-day life in 1970's America. This is such a fascinating book on so many levels, and there are far better scholars than me that have critiqued this book and studied all of the nuances within these pages. This book is truly a literary triumph that deserves to stand with all of the other giants of the science fiction genre.
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