Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

kindredKindred utilizes the devices of science fiction in order to answer the question “how could anybody be a slave?” A woman from the twentieth century, Dana is repeatedly brought back in time by her slave-owning ancestor Rufus when his life is endangered. She chooses to save him, knowing that because of her actions a free-born black woman will eventually become his slave and her own grandmother. When forced to live the life of a slave, Dana realizes she is not as strong as her ancestors. Unable to will herself back to her own time and unable to tolerate the institution of slavery, she attempts to run away and is caught within a few hours. Her illiterate ancestor Alice succeeds in eluding capture for four days even though “She knew only the area she’d been born and raised in, and she couldn’t read a map.” Alice is captured, beaten, and sold as a slave to Rufus. As Dana is sent back and forth through time, she continues to save Rufus’s life, attempting during each visit to care for Alice, even as she is encouraging Alice to allow Rufus to rape her and thus ensure Dana’s own birth. As a twentieth-century African-American woman trying to endure the brutalities of nineteenth-century slavery, Dana answers the question, “See how easily slaves are made?” For Dana, to choose to preserve an institution, to save a life, and nurture victimization is to choose to survive.

Easy to read, an eye-opening book about slavery of black people in the States. This is great, I went from stories about old Chinese culture, Geisha of Japan, muslim laws in Saudi Arabia, old tradition of Palestina, genital mutilation in Somalia, to slavery of blacks in 18th century US. I should read more and more :)

I somehow had to compare Kindred with The Time Traveller’s Wife, because both are based on time travelling, although in completely different way (and no resemblance of the story as well). Kindred is lighter read (and write) on the chronological events, because the character goes so far back in time that it doesn’t directly affect anything on her own time. Now, Time Traveller’s Wife is VERY COMPLEX and crazy. I can’t imagine the amount of work for the writer and the editor to manage all those little details. The writer is a genious. (Cross ad for the book hey? :)

~ Finished on 7 January 2007

3.5 stars

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