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  • Writer's pictureShira

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

It was no easy task for a black woman to write science fiction in the 1970's, but that's not the only thing that makes Kindred by Octavia E. Butler worthy of a spot in the literary canon. Kindred is a well-written story with a protagonist you can't help but root for. The story is told from the perspective of Dana, a young black woman trying to make it as a writer in the 1970's (not unlike Butler herself). Suddenly Dana is taken back in time to a plantation in the antebellum South, right in time to save the life of a young white boy named Rufus. The story develops from there with Dana unwillingly moving back and forth through time, sometimes bringing her husband Kevin, an older white man, with her. As her trips to the past get longer and more dangerous, Dana is forced to adapt to a world where she is a slave. Not only does this book explore themes of race and violence, the story shines a light on the darkest parts of slavery which are far too often kept out of our history textbooks.

One of the best parts of this book is how accessible it is for non-science fiction lovers. Sci-Fi is a genre that people tend to really love or really hate. If you're a fan, Kindred has an interesting take on time travel, but if sci-fi isn't your go-to genre, the novel is also historical fiction at its best. Of all the books that should be in the canon, the exclusion of Kindred is the one I am angriest about. Unlike many books I will write about here, Kindred was written before the creation of the literary canon. It deserved a spot back then and it definitely deserves a spot now.

Content Warning: violence, sexual assault, and rape.

As always, I recommend buying this book at a local bookstore or checking it out of the library!

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