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Kindred Hardcover – February 1, 2009
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"Butler's characters are so vivid and the racist milieu in which they struggle to survive so realistically depicted that one cannot finish Kindred without feeling changed. It is a shattering work of art with much to say about love, hate, slavery, and racial dilemmas, then and now."—Sam Frank, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner
"Like emotion that uplifts and enriches, like exquisite music or the taste of some special candy remembered from childhood, I never wanted Kindred to end. It overwhelmed me, dominated me, drew me on page after page. To express my total admiration and wonder for the originality of this surpassingly compelling novel, I am driven to a despised cliché: I could not put it down! It is a book that simply will not be denied; its power is hypnotic. Kindred is a story that hurts: I take that to be the surest indicator of genuine Art. It is an important novel, filled with powerful human insight and the shocking impact of the most commonplace experiences viewed in a new way, and it demands that once begun, the reader continue till it has done its work on the heart and mind and soul. 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. Do not, I beg you, deny yourself this singular experience."—Harlan Ellison
"Truly terrifying. . . . A book you'll find hard to put down." —Essence
"Butler's books are exceptional. . . . She is a realist, writing the most detailed social criticism and creating some of the most fascinating female characters in the genre . . . real women caught in impossible situations." —Dorothy Allison, The Village Voice
"Butler's literary craftsmanship is superb." —The Washington Post Book World
"Her books are disturbing, unsettling… In a field dominated by white male authors, Butler's African-American feminist perspective is unique, and uniquely suited to reshape the boundaries of the sci-fi genre." —Bill Glass, L. A. Style
"One of the most original, thought-provoking works examining race and identity." —Lynell George, Los Angeles Times
"This powerful novel about a modern black woman transported back in time to a slave plantation in the antebellum South is the perfect introduction to Butler's work and perspectives for those not usually enamored of science fiction. . .A harrowing, haunting story." —John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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Top Customer Reviews
KINDRED is one of those rare novels that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let you go until the very end. From the first sentence, Butler's simple, straightforward prose moves the story quickly making it nearly impossible for the reader to put down.
Dana, a black woman living in Los Angeles in 1976, is inexplicably transported to 1815 to save the life of a small, red-haired boy on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It turns out this small boy, Rufus, is one of her white slave owning ancestors, who she knows very little about. Dana continues to be called into the past to save Rufus, and frequently stays long periods of time in the slave owning South. The only way she can get back to 1976 is to be in a life threatening situation. During her stays in the past she is forced to assume the role of a slave to survive. She is whipped. She is beaten. She is nearly raped, twice. She is forced to watch whippings and families being broken up. She learns to enjoy hard work as an escape from the other horrors of slave life. And she watches as a fairly unassuming small son of a plantation owner grows up to be a cruel, capricious, hot-tempered slave owner in his own right. And to be her great-grandfather many generations removed.
KINDRED is about slavery and the scars it has inflicted on American society. There are really three key factors Butler focuses on that reveal the ability of the South to institutionalize slavery. First there is the physical abuse. The constant work, especially the physically exhausting work of a field hand, kept slaves too tired to run or become insolent. Being ever on the verge of a lash or two for minor offenses kept slaves working to avoid punishment.Read more ›
"Kindred" was, for many years, required reading at Muir. It was through this connection that I was introduced to her writing by my daughter. She is my youngest son's favorite author, a tribute to her ability to transcend gender, race, and age in presenting ideas that no one else could ever have imagined. We were looking forward to meeting her as part of Pasadena's "One City, One Story" program which had chosen "Kindred" as this year's selection.
Butler was certainly not a "black author" in any limiting sense at all. She blasted open the SciFi gates of gender and color with her extraordinary vision, imagination, and courage. The choice of "Kindred" is a fitting tribute to the diversity of her hometowns of Pasadena and Altadena and the Pasadena Unifed School District in which she was educated.
It is rare that a passing of someone I have not personally met so saddens me. She is in a world without limits now.
"Kindred" tells the story of Dana, a 20th century African-American woman who is married to a white man. Throughout the book Dana is mysteriously thrust back and forth in time between her world and the world of her ancestors in the 19th century. She seems to be tied to one ancestor in particular: Rufus, the white son of a slaveowning family. Part of Dana's struggle is to deal with the utterly alien world of Rufus' slaveowning culture.
Butler brilliantly weaves many powerful themes into this gripping story: violence, sexual desire, race, literacy, language, law, and education. The story is peopled with well-developed characters who have complex, interconnected relationships. Butler vividly evokes how the slave system both physically brutalized blacks and psychologically warped whites.
Butler's prose is lean and muscular. She grips you from the stark opening lines: "I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm." The story is richly ironic and heartbreaking. "Kindred" is a compelling 20th century literary descendant of such important 19th century slave autobiographies as "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" and Harriet Jacobs' "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"; it is also a significant "sister" text to 20th century works (like Toni Morrison's "Beloved") which also revisit the era of slavery. But Butler's ingenious use of a classic science fiction device (i.e. time travel) sets the book apart from all of these other literary explorations of slavery. Whether for classrooms, book reading circles, or individual readers, "Kindred" is a triumph to be treasured.
Kindred was published in 1979, yet for some sad reason I only recently discovered the author, Octavia Butler. Having finished Kindred in the space of two days, I intend to hunt down each and every book written by her. She is not an author I want to miss out on. Occasionally, reading a book written and published decades ago, particularly in the science fiction genre, makes the book less accessible and less enjoyable. This is absolutely not the case with Kindred.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I didn't know what to expect. At first I was put off by the language. Once I got over that I was able to enjoy the book. I highly recommend for book clubs and reading in general.Published 3 days ago by Imani Goodwin
Excellent read! I only wish Ms. Butler was still here to spin more such intriguing tales.Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
I enjoyed every page of Octavia Butler's unique storytelling in Kindred. Looking forward to reading her other works.Published 9 days ago by Kim Vawters
The entire concept of involuntary time travel to a place that was unsafe was compelling. Seeing the roots of many white's attitude about blacks that persists today. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Helen A. Erickson
A bit disappointed after reading so many reviews of how great this one was. It is a good book, but by no means great. Read morePublished 12 days ago by B. J. Robinson
Amazing writing. It is full of action and character development; and really makes you reflect on courage, humility, and strength. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
I loved the reading of this book. I say the reading since I seemed to luxuriate in the text each time I returned to it. Read morePublished 14 days ago by dk