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Kindred (Bluestreak) Paperback – Feb 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; New title edition (Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807083690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807083697
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 918,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Kindred is that rare magical artifact ... the novel one returns to, again and again (Harlan Ellison, muti-award-winning author)

One of the most original, thought-provoking works examining race and identity (Los Angeles Times)

One cannot finish Kindred without feeling changed. It is a shattering work of art (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner)

The immediate effect of reading Octavia Butler's Kindred is to make every other time travel book in the world look as if it's wimping out (Tor.com) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A modern black woman is transported to 19th century Maryland, where she faces the cruel realities of slavery. Kindred, Octavia E. Butler's masterpiece, is an essential read and 'a shattering work of art' (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner). --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd on 17 Mar. 2003
Format: Paperback
There are very few Afro-American science fiction writers, and even fewer of them are female writers, but they all have one thing in common: They write excellent fiction. Butler is not only no exception, she is one of the standard setters, and this work is a prime example.
This is a story of Dana, a modern Afro-American writer married to a white writer, who is drawn back in time to live with Rufus, plantation and slave owner in the period of 1815 - 1830, and also her distant ancestor. Though the mechanism by which she is forced back in time is never rationally explicated, this is almost immaterial, and Dana (and the reader) must simply deal with the transfer as a fact. But she is always drawn back at those times when Rufus is in danger of losing his life, from a near drowning to a contemplated suicide. When she helps him out of sheer humanitarianism, it leads to her having a rather strange position within his household, neither wholly slave nor anything close to being the equal of the whites. From this position, she can observe all the interactions between owner and slave, and at least initially be somewhat shielded from the worst of the living conditions of the slaves.
That shielding will not last, as Butler develops a powerful theme of how unbridled power leads to abuses that crush lives and hope, and just as much imposes character changes in the wielder and the recipient of such power. As a stark portrait of living conditions in that time, as a diatribe that exposes just how much has been conveniently forgotten about slavery and its demeaning, demoralizing effects, this work will evoke emotions of shame, rage, and empathy with all who are, through no fault of their own, caught in situations with very limited choices.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Lesa Smith on 27 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a classis book that connects modern literary to a historical time and place. You are immediately drawn into the story by the powerful opening first pages. The idea of connecting 1970s LA to slavery times in the deep South by using time travel is a unique way of allowing the reader to enlighten their ideas about slavery in a very modern context.
Miss Butler's book not only encourages black people to know about the struggles in their history but also for white people to understand what was happening to African Americans during slavery. At times it's sad and heart rendering. You are transported into another time by the excellent literary skills of Octavia Butler. I felt connected to Dana's character and how she begins to find out about her ancestry, a story that probably is familiar with most families in America.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as a friend recommended it to me. I felt it was a written well. It did not linger on things that didn't push the story forward. The relationships between the slaves and their masters are not detailed enough for you to fully understand the reality but the relationship that Dana has with both parties fulfils that need to know more about the slave-master relationship.
The only criticism is that there is not enough of the story that focuses on the slaves and their relationship with Dana and her husband. I think I would have love to her more about Sarah's life and the slave community that Dana has to fit into. I would also liked to have seen more about how Dana and her husband coped with life changing events that were happening to them.
Overall it is one the best books I've read. I am an avid reader of Toni Morrison and I would thoroughly recommend that people who love reading black literature would adore this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
If you are a connoisseur of slave narratives, this novel is an absolute must-read: a modern woman is somehow transported through time by an ancestor, whenever he is in need of help for survival. He is a slave-owner who will father one of her ancestors, so she feels some bond with him and must protect him to preserve her future existence.

However, once there, she must submit to the dictates of her time, i.e. being viewed as a property regardless of whether of not she is legally free. The family essentially claims her as its own, and she is treated more or less like the other slaves on the plantation. This begins an extraordinary transformational journey, where she (and for a time her husband from her own time) must adapt if she wants to survive. SLowly, we see her take on the characteristics of a slave, observing the people around her while standing out because of her knowledge and language and eventually the recognition that there is something abnormal about her appearances.

Nowhere have I ever read a narrative that translates the slave experience into such palpable terms, in ways that we can understand as her contemporaries. Though I read a lot of history, this book was still a revelation to me, from the standpoint of being able to understand the psychology of slavery, the banal everyday fears, and the rage that they subsumed in the name of survival. Most of all, Butler explores the power relationships - how the slaves perceive it, how it creates social division between slaves, and how it corrupts the slave owner. It adds up to a deep portrait of a frighteningly different place, which we would find almost completely alien.

Beneath that is a very deep novel, with innumerable themes that develop through the course of the book.
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