Kindred by Octavia. E Butler
My own copy
In 1976, Dana dreams of being a writer. In 1815, she is assumed a slave.
When Dana first meets Rufus on a Maryland plantation, he’s drowning. She saves his life – and it will happen again and again.
Neither of them understands his power to summon her whenever his life is threatened, nor the significance of the ties that bind them.
And each time Dana saves him, the more aware she is that her own life might be over before it’s even begun.
Octavia E. Butler‘s ground-breaking masterpiece is the extraordinary story of two people bound by blood, separated by so much more than time.
Kindred is such an exceptionally difficult novel to describe. Especially when it comes to the area of genre. It has themes of historical slavery, time travel and at it’s heart a beautiful romance between Dana and her husband Kevin.
Although it is tricky to describe and review, I urge you to buy a copy!
You won’t be disappointed.
It is June 9th 1976, Dana’s 26th birthday when she first meets Rufus. She saves his life from drowning in the river and is met with the threat of death via the barrel of a gun!
Dana then reappears in the modern day (1976). Was this a dream? An hallucination? Dana desperately tries to piece it all together. Rufus’s southern accent, the scenery etc.
Dana continues to be drawn and pulled back into the past every time Rufus encounters trouble. When Dana plays close attention to Rufus’s language and the dialogue of his conversations, she then realises, she is in a dark era of time. Dana is being transported back to 1815. Also not just any location but the Weylin Plantation where 38 slaves are held. This is an extremely dangerous era for Dana to be pulled into.
‘The possibility of meeting a white adult here frightened me, more than the possibility of street violence ever had at home’ – Dana
‘Paperless blacks were fair game for any white’
In the modern day (1976) Dana is married to Kevin Franklin. The story of who they met and fell in love is incorporated into the story. He is the only person to have physically witnessed Dana’s journeys into the past and has deep concern. It may be worth noting Dana is African American and Frank is white. Something Rufus refuses to believe, when she attempts to explain the future to him.
‘Rufus fear of death calls me to him, and my own fear of death sends me home’ – Dana
There are violent scenes and scenes where you see the KKK in all their evil glory. They are painful to read but describe the violence and dehumanisation that was inflicted upon slaves and free black people in 1815.
‘Strength. Endurance. To survive, my ancestors had to put up with more than I ever could. Much more’ – Dana
In the lucid moments in the present day (1976) Dana and her husband frantically search for a link between her past and Rufus’s. Their research leads them to believe there is in fact a biological connection of some sort between Dana and Rufus but how?
‘I was the worse possible guardian for him – a black to watch over him in a society that considered blacks subhuman. A woman to watch over him in a society that considered women perennial children’
This is a powerful novel. It is intelligent and generates deep thought. The hierarchy of slavery and violence is fully explored.
I shall leave some of the thought-provoking quotes I noted below. 5*
‘I never realised how easily people could be trained to accept slavery’ – Dana
‘There was no shame in raping a black woman, but there could be shame in loving one’
‘It was so easy to advise other people to live with their pain’ – Dana
‘I had no enforceable rights. None at all’ – Dana