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Kindred

Narrated by: Kim Staunton
Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (5,850 ratings)

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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

Critic Reviews

"[ 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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kirsten
  • Mescalero, NM, USA
  • 01-30-08

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!!

38 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

46 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

47 of 51 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

63 of 69 people found this review helpful

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  • Lauren
  • Riverview, Florida
  • 02-14-17

Simply written, but full of wisdom

Kindred's writing style doesn't use a lot of flowery speech and metaphors, but it's enjoyable and straight to the point. It's impressive the range of topics which it covers. I actually wish that I could have been assigned this book in high school, because I'd love to get an academic take on it.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Hunnee
  • Sherman Oaks, CA, United States
  • 05-04-16

Really good listen

This is pretty much a historical novel with a bit of SF icing, focusing almost exclusively on the relationships built between a mid-1970's modern black woman who is continually sent back in time to save an ancestor from an early death.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Waltham, MA, United States
  • 03-15-17

Engaging time-travel into slavery

I enjoyed this story about Dana, an African-American woman in the 1970's, who was suddenly pulled into the past. She goes to Maryland in the early 1800's, to a slave plantation. Seeing and experiencing slavery from the viewpoint of a modern and educated black woman was powerful and engaging. Dana gets thrown back and forth through time a number of times. Dana is connected through time to a young white boy, the son of the plantation owner. This story is not especially deep or edgy, but it was fast-paced, and did draw me in. The secondary characters and details of everyday living did not come alive as much as I had hoped, but I still enjoyed it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, sometimes uninspired reading

Every reading is an interpretation in a way. This reading strove very hard for a long time to avoid any interpretation. She does a fine job with the accents but can't seem to get into the emotional state of the protagonist. What it ends up being is overly cheery and overly enunciated, as though it were being read to children.

But the story itself is engrossing.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

I recently listened to Dawn by the same author and I really enjoyed it. The plot device here is time travel that takes us to the early 1800s into a plantation with slaves. It really is not sci-fi. Instead it is historical fiction without anything that I found new or surprising. The narration was weak. The narrators voice was pleasant but not interesting. She did the accents well but it isn't enough to outweigh the rather rote reading. I will not listen to her again.

34 of 41 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good story but poor editing

I know I'm getting picky but it makes me crazy to hear the same sentence over and over when there could be so many ways to say it.

"I said nothing" was a statement made by Dana over and over and over. I heard it 5 times in an hour in part 2. Poor editing didn't bother me until I listened to Ken Follett's book and he was so repetitive with such awkward sentences that I wanted to scream at times. He had a great story but where was the editor???

So the story line is good though a bit strange at time. The character Dana disappears and returns wet and muddy in a few seconds and her husband doesn't believe what she tells him. He tries to tell her she imagined it yet there she is wet and muddy and in a different place in just seconds. The conversation should have been closer to - Holy Cow. What is this? - but instead he tries to tell Dana it was just a dream. She should take a shower and clean up and she will feel better and realize nothing really happened to her?

Really? That's the conversation? Is that because he's the man and she's the woman and therefore he must understand more than her?

The book is worth the read because of the different inside looking out view of slavery but with involved editing it could have been so much better.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Alistair Shaw
  • 02-27-17

I am so glad I listened to goodreads on this.

this was amazing. simply staggering. I feel sorry for everyone in this book, the writing is powerful and clever, simple and clear.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jess
  • 03-29-09

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...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. P. Duffield
  • 11-27-16

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!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • parodi
  • 05-09-19

Overall good read

An interesting story and concept of time travel, identity, and slavery. It was a good book to listen to

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  • bohobo
  • 04-08-19

Fantastic.

Never a dull moment. Each character is wholly unique yet believable. Historical fiction meets Sci fi and it's the most perfect blend.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rott1
  • 04-03-19

Less Sci fi more history

I was a reluctant listener initially as I find reading about slavery very hard. However this book is written in good description without the gore. It's still a horrific time though. The relationship between Ru and Dana is simple yet complex. I found myself enjoying the whole story. I would have liked more findings in the epilogue to tie those loose ends.

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  • L
  • 05-02-18

One of my favourites

This book might be one of my favourites now! Kim Staunton is a fantastic narrator.

It's a challenging book, making the reader/listener sympathise with characters you might not otherwise want to, and really think about why Butler is presenting situations the way she does. The main character was great - full of agency, action and emotion, and the supporting cast was equally compelling. I will probably relisten to this book some time soon.

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  • Casey
  • 01-31-17

Get past the beginning.

Hard to get into and the voices are blended by the reader.
However, gives a good understanding of slave life and well handled time travel elements. Overall much enjoyed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-01-19

Grim but Beautiful

This book was made mandatory for a university course I took. at first I was apprehensive as it might just be another grim retelling of slavery but with the way it toys with so many wonderful aspects it just keeps you invested. I highly recommend if you've the time spare.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-31-19

Interesting time jump story

This story about an African-american woman jumping back in time, the time before the civil war. I found the start a little confusing but the end was wow. Issues of slavery, freedom, violence and rap and how this linked to central characters. The narrator made this story stand out and hatd to press stop on.