Townhouse Books

Monday, March 06, 2006

Kindred: Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler has been on my "read this some day" list for years, and I'm sad to say it was her obituary on that finally motivated me to read one of her books. Kindred is the story of a modern black woman who involuntarily time travels to the antebellem southern plantation where her earliest known ancestor has not yet been born. She is compelled to save the life of the plantation owner's son again and again, because she realizes that her family's survival depends on his.

This novel is incredibly well-researched, and well-written in a way that many well-researched books are not. Rather than weigh down her story with tedious exposition, Butler places her protagonist in situations that illustrate the hardships and ironies of daily life on the plantation. The central time travel premise is the only fantastical element of the book, but that makes the character's adjustment to her situation so interesting -- without the aid of a babel fish or a hitchhikers guide, she must make sense of a culture with rules that are not only foreign, they are repulsive.


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  • I recommend the Xenogenesis series, too. And most her other stuff, which now I want to re-read.

    She's got this great gift for making you feel unsettled.

    By Blogger lillygog, at 8:21 PM  

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