Paperback, 287 pages

English language

Published March 12, 2008 by Beacon Press.

ISBN:
978-0-8070-8369-7
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5 stars (8 reviews)

The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black 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...

10 editions

Powerful

5 stars

This book packs a punch. It really drives home that the past can be very dangerous and how it continues to influence the present. Probably one of the best time travel tales. Despite the heavy themes I found it very gripping and hard to put down. And it's so well written. We see everything through Dana's eyes and only learn what she learns when she learns it. It all feels very organic. The characterisations are well done, too, e.g. I guessed that Dana's husband is white before it's mentioned just by the way he is well-meaning but doesn't quite get it. The book explores the system of slavery, how "slaves are made" and the violence inherent in the system even when no overt violence is occurring. Even if you already know a lot about slavery, it really adds another dimension to it. I highly recommend reading it.

A deserved classic

5 stars

For much of the time I spent reading Kindred, I completely forgot that this novel was written in the 1970s - some 45 years ago now. Octavia Butler's ideas and prose style still feel fresh and I was glad that this important novel hasn't suffered from being 'of its time'. Other 1970s novels I've read have seemed dated but, in fact, Kindred came across as just as relevant now as it must have been to its first readers. On a personal level that was a good thing because it meant I could fully appreciate the story and everything it wanted to impart to me. I was also very aware though that this also illustrates how little progress has been achieved in terms of racial and gender equality over the past four decades. Slavery such as Dana experiences on the plantation may no longer be legal, but the attitudes it fostered …

Still powerful almost half a century on

4 stars

Content warning Minor plot information

Such an original and captivating storyline

5 stars

What a book. I was drawn in by the horrifying scenario that Dana found herself trapped in, but the examination of how slavery was so normalized, and how evil the institution of chattel slavery was.

I happened to have been in the middle of this book when a conspiracy theorist, racist member of my extended family brought up how whites are unfairly blamed for slavery. It made me realize that while the practice of owning people as slaves is gone, the same anti-black philosophy is still thriving among white men.

The idea that my family member or his ilk would tacitly endorse the return of slavery is slim, but, in finding themselves in Kevin's shoes might think similarly that "Hey, this isn't as bad as I thought it would be..."

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5 stars
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5 stars

Subjects

  • African American women -- Fiction
  • Slaveholders -- Fiction
  • Time travel -- Fiction
  • Slavery -- Fiction
  • Slaves -- Fiction
  • Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Fiction
  • Southern States -- Fiction

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