“The trouble began long before June 9, 1976, when I became aware of it, but June 9 is the day I remember. It was my twenty-sixth birthday. It was also the day I met Rufus – the day he called me to him for the first time.”
– page 12
I’m going to get straight to the point – this book blew me away.
Kindred is the story of Edana, a young black woman living in the 1970s who suddenly finds herself transported to Antebellum south, face to face with a drowning white boy and his father with a rifle. The connection she has with this young boy, Rufus, through time and space and also bloodline, is one that keeps sending her back and forth from the 20th century to the 19th and back again.
This was not only a great book to read for Women’s History Month, but also an excellent follow up to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The horrors of slavery were painfully described in this novel which manages to be incredibly realistic, despite its impressive conceit. Dana, with her modern attitude, has to survive in slavery, while at the same time trying to keep from changing the future too much. I wish more people knew about this book. It’s so good. Don’t let the slightly woody dialogue at the beginning stop you! It gets better, it’s only a chapter or two!
Butler is one of the few African American women science fiction writers and Kindred is proof of her skill. It is an SF book that everyone can enjoy and relate to (also one that should terrify everyone). I did not want this book to end and I can see it being one that I reread and reread over the years.
I really like this quote from Harlan Ellison on the front of my edition: “Octavia Butler is a writer who will be with us for a long, long time and Kindred is that rare, magical artifact… the novel one returns to, again and again, through the years, to learn, to be humbled, and to be renewed.” I completely agree.
I also just learned that this was Butler’s first novel… wow.