Of Kindred Octavia Butler Book Review

The August book of the month for Harare Book Club was Octavia Butler’s Kindred.

Kindred was first published in 1979 and over 40 years after its publication, its still a popular and powerful story maybe even more so now when the fight for rights, equality and the battle against oppression and discrimination still rage on.

Octavia E Butler
First edition cover of Kindred
First edition cover of Kindred

I was first introduced to Octavia Butler when a fellow blogger made the comment that a short story I had written had a character that reminded them of one from Octavia Butler’s books. I hadn’t heard of Octavia Butler at the time, so I went out searching only to find I had missed her by a couple of years as she had passed away at the age of 85 in 2006 but her words live on, so I read them all.

Octavia Estelle Butler

Octavia E. Butler (Author of Kindred)

Octavia Estelle Butler was an American Science fiction author with multiple accolades including being the first science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur FellowshipGenius Grant” in 1995. Butler is known throughout the science fiction world as the Grande Dame of Science Fiction.  Kindred remains her best-selling novel

Kindred

Kindred is a time travel story that is partly a historical fantasy, partly a slave narrative, and partly the story of how a twentieth-century black woman comes to terms with slavery as her own and her nation’s past. The book is widely classified as science fiction although outside of the time travel aspect, it has none of the traditional sci-fi elements, it’s a human interest story, Octavia called it a kind of grim fantasy.

Kindred is the story of Dana, a Black woman living in the 70s era. She is unpacking boxes at home when all of a sudden she disappears, and fall into the 1800s of the Pre-Civil War South. Before she can figure out what is going on, she saves a small white child’s life but is almost killed herself. Then she immediately returns home to her time period, but things only get weirder after that… 

The book has a non-liner plot which begins somewhere in the middle of the end and then stitched together between present and past with flashbacks told via a first-person point of view that makes you a witness to it all…

Kindred is a haunting and honest account of slavery, feminism, legacy and survival as Dana realises how the people she meets in 1800s are not just her kindred by race but her very bloodline and she has to make tough choices to ensure generations of her very existence…

The ease. Us, the children… I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery

Dana – Kindred

The book opens with a gripping line that immediately draws you in, willing you to embark on this adventure:

I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm. And I lost about a year of my life and much of the comfort and security I had not valued until it was gone.

The Good

Octavia is phenomenal storyteller and weaves the story in a way that violence of the times is somewhat easier to digest, the slave era was a difficult time and this book makes us all kindred for having witnessed history.

“I think one of the reasons I wrote Kindred was to resolve my feelings… Kindred was a kind of reaction to some of the things going on during the 60s when people were feeling ashamed of, or more strongly, angry with their parents for not having improved things faster, and I wanted to take a person from today and send that person back to slavery.” – Octavia

tell stories filled with facts make people touch and feel and taste an know make people feel
c) Estate of Octavia E. Butler/The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

Sometimes we educate best by unsettling, by pulling back the curtain of a world and saying, look, scream, and never forget. – Octavia

The Not So Good

Even though Octavia tried to toned down the brutality and violence the book will trigger you, the rape, the whippings, the cruelty one being can inflict on another… I also wish the time travel aspect had been clarified we never get to understand the what, when, how and why.

Conclusion

If this book is not on your To Be Read pile it should be…

~B

PS Kindred is being made into a movie… ok technically that’s not true but the Lionsgate movie Antebellum (Premieres September 2020) is heavily inspired by the plot and events from Kindred.

12 Comments

    1. Glad to introduce you to Octavia Butler

      Glad to introduce you to Octavia Butler reading her works may have in subtle ways influence how I now write.
      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This feels like something I’d enjoy, her reason for writing the books makes it even drawing, I’ll definitely read this then come back here and do my “oh my goodness reviews” … Are there copies on Amazon?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep it’s available on Amazon!!!
      In a way Octavia Butler has from the grave greatly influenced why and how I write… The mentor I never knew I had…

      ~B

      Like

  2. Well written book review! 💕 I thought the quotes and how you showed the good and bad points of the book helped us understand more on what to expect when we decide to read the book. I also think the points you featured about the book made it more interesting to read. 😊 will totally check this out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Elle.
      I always try to write my reviews in the way I would want to read a book review that is… without giving spoilers yet still giving enough Back story to know what to expect and if it’s something one should read

      I am super glad this review seems to have ticked the right boxes.
      ~B

      Liked by 2 people

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