Kindred is a classic literary masterpiece, and is one of the most important works of the legendary writer Octavia Butler. Though heralded as the foremost feminist science fiction text, Butler has always asserted that this label was misplaced – ‘You’ll note there’s no science in it. It’s a kind of grim fantasy.’ It was her first novel, and she has since described how she got the "germ of the idea" when a young African American classmate involved in the Black Power Movement loudly criticized previous generations of African Americans for being subservient to whites. As she explained in later interviews, the young man's remarks instigated her to respond with a story that would give historical context to that shameful subservience, so that it could be understood as a kind of silent but courageous survival mechanism. Kindred interlinks disparate narratives and imagined landscapes to pull through a world perpetually looping back on itself; Butler writes in ways that quite simply seem impossible elsewhere. She is one of the most important writers in history, and her admission of having a ‘huge and savage conscience’ that ‘wont’ let me get away with anything’ is both entirely apt and a reminder of a force we would all do well to stay close to.

Octavia Butler
Beacon Press

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