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
"[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)
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!!
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.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
A bit over a year ago I picked up Octavia Butler’s book Fledgling more by mistake than anything else. I knew the late Octavia Butler was a well known science fiction author, but I had not read anything she had written.
Fledgling, her last book, was about vampires, but was far different from either the young adult Twilight books, the Anne Rice books or the traditional Bram Stoker, book.
I was reluctant to pick up Kindred because of the subject matter. An African American woman gets sent back to Antebellum South. I expected a depressing or superficial book. Instead I found one of the best fiction books I have read this year.
I am a bit allergic to nostalgia, wishing to be back at some mythical point in history is great, for those that were privileged at that point in time.
Dana, both a woman and African American, was not privileged to in 1815 or the later points where she goes back. It is this voice, of the African American and female writer that Butler is known for. But what could be a simplistic (slavery was bad) book was a nuanced look at how culture affect the person.
This past week, with all of the tributes to Nelson Mandela, I was disturbed by those that wanted to focus on his freedom fighting days prior to his arrest without paying any attention to the reality on the ground of what Apartheid was like. Similarly, there is a movement among a small segment of Christians that want to assert that slavery is not objectively evil, but only evil to the extent that slave owners acted sinfully toward their slaves.
This is a level of historical reconstruction similar to holocaust deniers and just as dangerous. If this book were only a modern look at the reality of slavery it would be worth reading, but limited. Instead, it is well written, understands both the evil of slavery and the power of culture and the ability to overcome culture at times.
In some ways this book makes me think of one of my favorite books, The Time Traveler’s Wife. Both are heartbreaking in the way that one person is ripped out of time and another is left behind.
This is not a new book. Kindred was written in 1979 and was the book that allowed Octavia Butler to become a full time writer. Butler later won a MacArthur Foundation Genius grant and multiple Nebula and Hugo awards. I have picked up her Patternist series and Lilith’s Brood Trilogy as part of a recent kindle sale and look forward to reading what I understand is yet again two very different types of stories.
Originally posted on my blog, Bookwi.se
I enjoyed the unique way Ms Butler takes us on this journey into the past through the life of a woman of color married to a white man. 1976 back to 1816....crazy to think of being unwillingly pulled into a slave era to save an ancestor ...must read or listen to.
What an amazing book. Makes you think about how much AND also how little times have changed. I kept thinking how although we are in better times, atrocities still occur in many parts of our world. People haven't changed, only consequences, education and order have improved. Scary.
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...
"Powerful and challenging"
A solid and nuanced performance, and a book that grips you, even when it goes to the most challenging places a human narrative can go. There's no simple moralising, no easy-to-swallow hero's struggle, just an uncomfortably honest and sometimes brutal exploration of what having complete social power over another human being means. The fantastical framing isn't wasted either, it forms a subtle symbolism and a gentle entry point for the events of the book, without ever overwhelming the human drama or dulling the impact of the story. Needs to be listened to!!
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