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Kindred | [Octavia E. Butler]

Kindred

Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes she's been given a challenge.
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Publisher's Summary

The first science-fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of African-American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity.

Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life.

During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she's been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.

Author Octavia E. Butler skilfully juxtaposes the serious issues of slavery, human rights, and racial prejudice with an exciting science-fiction, romance, and historical adventure. Kim Staunton's narrative talent magically transforms the listener's earphones into an audio time machine.

©2000 Octavia Butler; (P)2000 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"[Kindred] is a shattering work of art with much to say about love, hate, slavery and racial dilemmas, then and now." (Los Angeles Herald Examiner)
"Truly terrifying." (Essence)
"Butler's literary craftsmanship is superb." (The Washington Post Book World)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (537 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kirsten Mescalero, NM, USA 01-30-08
    Kirsten Mescalero, NM, USA 01-30-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Octavia is awesome!!"

    I have read many of Octavia's books so I was excited to see one of them here. Wish they had more, I would get them all. Anyway this book is very good and the reader is excellent. I didn't have any trouble keeping track of the characters even with one reader. The book is surreal and enveloping. You don't know what to think or what might happen. The book is disturbing at times because part of it occurs in the 1800s during slavery. This book is great stuff!!

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy New Mexico 08-22-10
    Kathy New Mexico 08-22-10 Member Since 2007

    Kathy

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    "Great view of black Antebellum South in a novel"

    At first, I thought I had purchased a time travel novel for young adults. As I listened, I realized that the story presented a pretty accurate view of life in Antebellum South for the African American slave. It is presented through the eyes of a modern African American woman and it was eye opening. I've always enjoyed a touch of time travel and that was handled very well by the narrator so that you realized when you were in various times. Also, check into the authoress. She is quite famous in her own right and knowing about her added to the novel in my opinion. I definitely would consider this book. It is not preachy; it is just a good novel about someone who finds herself in the pre-Civil War south.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Davis San Francisco, CA 11-03-07
    S. Davis San Francisco, CA 11-03-07 Member Since 2002
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    "Felt the Experience"

    I had not read any work by Octavia Butler prior to her death - I wasn't really interested in Sci-Fi. This book was an enjoyable read, not traditional sci-fci but part social commentary and part history lesson. You can really feel the characters (great narrator) and feel empathy for all of them. I had a very different perspective of the time period after listening to this book.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rehema I. Trimiew New York, NY 10-23-07
    Rehema I. Trimiew New York, NY 10-23-07 Member Since 2013

    Purpleicious

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    "Simple and interesting"

    I found the writing to be basic and simple and I wondered what age the book was intended for, maybe a young teenager? Despite the lack of complexity in the writing the story brought the experience of living under slavery in America to life! It raised a number of questions in my mind about the legacy of slavery based on the experiences of the protagonist as a contemporary black woman thrust into slavery. I recommend it for the new perspective it will give you by examining the past.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 12-05-10
    Jefferson Jonan-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Japan 12-05-10 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

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    "The Past of Slavery Still Moves and Wounds Us"

    Octavia Butler's Kindred is a terrible, fascinating, and moving novel, so vivid in its examination of the Southern slave system and its negative effects on slaves (especially) and masters (subtly). Butler puts her protagonist Dana Franklin, a contemporary African American woman, into incredibly difficult physical, moral, and existential situations via time travel to the antebellum Maryland plantation of her ancestors. Although there is no scientific explanation for the time travel, Butler's depiction of life on a slave plantation is convincingly detailed and realistic.

    Kim Staunton does a marvelous job reading Kindred. Her natural voice is just right for Dana's warm, thoughtful, and honest first-person narration. Staunton effortlessly reads the voices of various characters, from an educated Southern Californian black woman of the 1970s to a Maryland slave or slave-owner of the early 19th century. There are moments of intense suspense and horrific violence, as well as moments of melting kindness and (nearly) redemptive understanding.

    That I, a white man, had no trouble empathizing and identifying with Butler's black, female protagonist narrator Dana, but that I also uncomfortably found myself thinking that I would probably be at least as bad a master as Rufus Weylin, agreeing with Dana's white husband that life for the slaves on the Weylin plantation was not as bad as it could be (which meant that I was to some degree taking too lightly their pain living it), and longing for an impossibly happy ending, all testify to Butler's skill as a writer.

    This book should be read by anyone who thinks that slavery really wasn't so bad after all or that the past is past. It should be read by anyone who wants to experience a powerful and absorbing story read by an excellent actress-reader.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    brenty United States 01-27-14
    brenty United States 01-27-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Learning the hard way"

    For those of us who have never known the sorrows of the Old South -- and that's, well, all of us -- this book gives us a bitter taste.

    The characters, setting, and ideas explored in this book are illuminating. The author and narrator make this surreal journey terrifyingly real; and while I am not sure that I see myself reading this book again, it has done its dark duty and left its mark in the best way possible.

    My only regret is that I read this after King's 11-22-63. Had the reverse been true, my expectations for a modern time travel novel wouldn't have been so unfairly high and I could have enjoyed this book even more.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Turiello Overland Park, KS USA 10-12-13
    Heather Turiello Overland Park, KS USA 10-12-13 Member Since 2006

    I'm a voracious audiobook listener, rarely found without my iPod.

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    "Octavia Butler is one of the best!"
    Any additional comments?

    I only recently discovered Octavia Butler when I read her last book, Fledgling. I was very impressed with her originality and deft handling of racial perspective. Kindred is a wonderful historical fiction. Written in the 70s, this timeless view of a southern slaveholder in the early 1800s is a beautiful story that will stay with me for some time.

    Dana is a modern black woman, living in California, when she is mysteriously drawn back in time to rescue a young white boy from drowning. When Rufus appears to be safe, Dana is brought back to her own time, soaking wet and very frightened. Her husband Kevin is shocked to have his wife disappear and reappear, but doesn't hesitate to believe her when she tells her story. A short while later, it happens again. This time Dana finds Rufus starting a fire in his living room. She stops the fire and finds from Rufus that she is in Maryland in 1815.

    She quickly comes to the conclusion that she is drawn back to Rufus when his life is in danger. I won't tell more, but this story is wonderful...beginning, middle and end. It's not hokey and the characters are well defined and interesting.

    Kindred is an excellent read for anyone interested in historical fiction, African American history and time travel. Octavia Butler is definitely one of the best African American writers of our time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda A. Wright Tallahassee, FL United States 04-09-13
    Linda A. Wright Tallahassee, FL United States 04-09-13 Member Since 2009

    I'm a recovering librarian. Since I had a stroke in 2002 I have found reading print difficult. I am so grateful for audiobooks.

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    "Historical Fiction Not Science Fiction"

    At first I was troubled by the time-machine quality that pulls the central character back several generations, then it seem to me a brilliant way of looking at history as seen through the lens of modern day values and attitudes.
    Finally, I began to also see the underlying metaphor of protecting the ancestors who she would have preferred to distance herself from, even if it cost her an arm, and propelling herself back to the present by the need to save her own life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annemichelle Grants Pass, OR, United States 10-16-09
    Annemichelle Grants Pass, OR, United States 10-16-09 Member Since 2009
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    "GREAT BOOK!"

    I could hardly put it down. This story is so believable in so many ways, it truly makes one think about the way we see the past. Loved it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Candace spring, TX, USA 04-13-09
    Candace spring, TX, USA 04-13-09 Member Since 2008
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    "Awesome and Spooky"

    The story was thrilling and I could not put it down. Her works are all great reads!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Jess
    LondonUnited Kingdom
    3/29/09
    Overall
    "Gripping"

    This is obviously a classic sci-fi novel, so I'm sure people will be well aware of its importance in general (This is a really good general review of the book: http://brownfemipower.com/archives/329) . But this is also a fantastic reading, I was on tenterhooks from beginning to end...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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