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by Octavia butler

Inexplicably pulled back in time to the antebellum South, a contemporary Black woman, raised in the age of Civil Rights and Black Power, must confront the harsh realities of Black history in America
Download Kindred epub
ISBN: 0671834835
ISBN13: 978-0671834838
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Contemporary
Author: Octavia butler
Language: English
Publisher: Pocket; First Edition edition (January 1, 1981)
Pages: 324 pages
ePUB size: 1707 kb
FB2 size: 1828 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 925
Other Formats: doc azw docx lrf

I am a 72 yo white male who was born and raised in the deep South. I left that environment as a teenager, which probably made the difference in my attitude toward the significance of race. Butler made me feel like I was that 26-year-old black woman. Her skillful writing transported me to a place and time that I am certain truly existed in the manner she constructed. I found myself doing some soul-searching after reading the novel kindred. I wish I had been exposed to her while she was still alive, But I will probably wind up reading all of her books now.
Silver Globol
I love sci-fi, so when I first heard about Octavia Butler, I jumped on Amazon and bought the first book I saw.

In Kindred, Dana, a modern young African American writer who recently married an older white man, gets mysteriously transported back in time to a pre-Civil War plantation owned by the family of her oldest known relative, Rufus. Dana is called back to save Rufus’s life over and over again, presumably preserving her own life in the process. What happens to her in the past stays with her in a very real way.

This novel is incredible. I couldn’t put it down. It was written in 1979, but it could have been written last year. Elements of Butler’s own life and frustrations with race issues during her life shine through in parts.

This novel deals with love, familial connection, loss, time travel, slavery, and the complex emotions that arise when these things interconnect. To quote Dana:
"Strangely, they seemed to like him, hold him in contempt, and fear him all at the same time. This confused me because I felt just about the same mixture of emotions for him myself. I had thought my feelings were complicated because he and I had such a strange relationship. But then, slavery of any kind fostered strange relationships. Only the overseer drew simple, unconflicting emotions of hatred and fear when he appeared briefly. But then, it was part of the overseer’s job to be hated and feared while the master kept his hands clean."

This is a great book. It makes the deep personal toll slavery takes on its victims very real. I’m seeking out more of Octavia Butler’s books in the near future.
This book kept me enthralled from the beginning to the end. The thought of Dana being transported from time to time from her present day home in the 1970's back to a slave plantation that was owned by one of her ancestors. It provides a glimpse into the lives of slavery from Dana's perspective and her comping to grips with the fact that she could be stuck in that time indefinitely. Each time Dana is transported back in time her stay becomes longer and she becomes entangled in the plantation and with the people and does her best to survive and make compromises to ensure her future existence.

I do not want to give up too much of the story. The author did an excellent job of portraying the characters and developing the story. I would have liked to know why Dana had such a strong connection with Rufus, but this did not take much away from the story.

I listened to the audio version as well as read the book.
All book lovers do this crazy thing. Because they love books and stories, they have a ton of books they haven’t gotten around to reading. I’ve had Kindred by Octavia E. Butler for ages, years.

Not reading Kindred as soon as I bought it was a big mistake. It turns out I love this book. I mean I really love it. If you’re read time travel books and like them, very few can compete with Kindred, well The Devil’s Arithmetic is excellent.
The Power of Kindred
The book is gripping, emotional, and rooted in reality. Dana, an educated black woman married to a white man in 1976, is pulled back in time to 1815 Maryland. Rufus, her great great grandfather, is a slave owner and a child when she firsts meets him.

When Dana learns Rufus is an ancestor, I immediately thought he would be a man who lived above the culture of his time, but as Dana is pulled back to Rufus, he’s behavior is typical of slave owners. I wanted him to change and become the man I imagined, but he didn’t.

As the years pass, he becomes more and more like his father and those around him. I think the power of this story is the reality and harsh truth that culture and mores help shape us and few rise above their time.

As I became more acquainted with life on the plantation, with the position of field slaves and house slaves, with the brutality of slave owners and slave overseers, I found myself experiencing life through Dana’s experiences. Her life on the plantation becomes reality, more so than 1976 because Dana spends little time in her present.

The beauty of Butler’s style is that although I’m white, I could easily relate to Dana, and so when she travels back in time to 1815, her experience on the plantation becomes mine. It’s the kind of story that stays with you long after you close the book.

For me, the power is in the story of those on the plantation and their limits. This isn’t Tara of Gone with the Wind seen through white eyes. It’s real. Not just the dangers, but the everyday life. The moments of hope mixed with the horrors that such a culture brings.

Dana is limited in how she can respond, and yet, her relationship with Rufus gives her some freedoms she wouldn’t have had. Late in the book, a reader learns that her relationship with Rufus also colored and shaped the way the other slaves saw and judged her.
The time travel and how it works is never explained, which worked for me. It just happened. Readers know it is Rufus who pulls her back. Each time he’s either near death or has gotten himself into deep trouble, and Dana saves him. While the people on the plantation age, Dana doesn’t. She might be home for hours or days before she is pulled back again, but time on the plantation moves forward until Rufus’ death.

The Negatives
Okay, I love this story so much, that I dismiss the negatives some people bring up, but here’s a list of some critiques.

1) Dana and racism: some critics point out that as a black woman, she would have experienced racism in 1976. I agree, she would have, but I was born and raised in and near Los Angeles. Even in 1976, an educated person in Los Angeles wouldn’t experience the “in-your-face” kind of racism found in this book. Mixed marriages might have been unusual in other parts of the US, but not in Southern California. From my experience growing up, I didn’t have a problem with Dana’s reactions to racism.

2) Dana didn’t do anything to change the time or the people. This critique surprises me. Would we really want someone going back in time and mucking around with history? Dana focused on Rufus and tried to influence him to become a better man. As it turns out her efforts were a lost cause. Kevin helped slaves escape to freedom.

For me, these are two ordinary people who have to find a way to live in a hostile and “foreign” land. If they started spouting prophecies about the future or trying to invent future technology, who knows what would have happened to them and the future.

3) Some people complain they didn’t know Dana was black. The cover sort of gives it away without the author telling us on page one.

Okay, I’m being a little snarky. I’m that way when someone criticizes Firefly too.
Last Thoughts
Go read the book!