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Kindred

24 Jul

Not the cover I’d use as Dana mainly wore pants

Dramatic and creative, Octavia Butler‘s Kindred pulled me in from the beginning. A post on Butler’s birthday on The Writer’s Almanac intrigued me. I’d never known of any African American sci fi writers. Science fiction isn’t a favorite of mine but I became curious.

Kindred is a time travel tale centered on Dana and her husband Kevin who get pulled out of 1976 to antebellum Maryland. At the beginning of the story, when Dana’s ancestor Rufus is in danger of drowning as a boy somehow Dana gets pulled into the past to save him for the first time. Imagine a black modern woman saving and eventually having to live on a plantation owned by her white ancestors. Dana’s permitted to work in the cookhouse and works teaching Rufus to read, but she’s not exempt from the horrors of slavery. The the story realizes all the potential for drama and insight that the premise promises.

The book isn’t heavy on the time travel and that’s to its credit. Dana and her Caucasian husband’s trips back in time allow readers to consider the injustice and cruelty of slavery afresh. The power of this novel is the characters and its veracity. I’d definitely read more of Butler’s work. I liked her style, her characters and the surprising ending, which emphasized that no one flees a culture of slavery unscathed.

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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in African American Lit, American Lit, contemporary, fiction

 

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