Octavia E. Butler’s bestselling literary science-fiction masterpiece, Kindred, now in graphic novel format.
More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.
Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.
Held up as an essential work in feminist, science-fiction, and fantasy genres, and a cornerstone of the Afrofuturism movement, there are over 500,000 copies of Kindred in print. The intersectionality of race, history, and the treatment of women addressed within the original work remain critical topics in contemporary dialogue, both in the classroom and in the public sphere.
Frightening, compelling, and richly imagined, Kindred offers an unflinching look at our complicated social history, transformed by the graphic novel format into a visually stunning work for a new generation of readers.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Racial taunts; Discrimination; Violence; Strong sexual themes; Sexual assault
Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
The grande dame of sci-fi’s 1979 novel is still widely, deservedly popular, and this graphic adaptation will lure in even more readers. Dana is a 1970s black woman repeatedly and involuntarily whisked back in time to a nineteenth-century plantation, where she becomes embroiled in the lives of the people enslaved there, risking everything by educating their children, even as she forms an uneasy and dangerous relationship with her own white ancestor. This adoring adaptation is dense enough to fully immerse readers in the perspective of a modern woman plunged into the thick of a culture where people are dehumanized by the act of dehumanizing others. It also preserves the vivid characterizations of the time traveler, her husband, and the enslaved people and the slaveholders, making the fantastical device that sets the story in motion a springboard for deeply humane insights. The heavily shaded, thick-lined, and rough-edged art lends a grimness appropriate to a life of jagged brutality and fearful uncertainty. Both a rewarding way to reexperience the tale and an accessible way to discover it.
Publishers Weekly (November 7, 2016)
Dana, an African-American woman in the 1970s, is thrust backward in time to a 19th-century Maryland plantation. Over many visits to the past, she realizes that the spoiled son of the plantation owner is her ancestor, destined to father children with a slave, and she must protect his life to ensure her own existence. Butler’s celebrated 1979 novel, here adapted into a graphic novel, starts with a gripping idea and builds skillfully, as both Dana and her white husband in the present are warped by slavery and become complicit in its evil. This graphic novel recaps the classic source material faithfully without adding much to justify the adaptation, although it may find some new readers. The blocky artwork lacks the subtlety to evoke the complexity of the novel or the vividness of its historical settings (in addition to the antebellum South, the adaptation preserves the 1970s setting of the “present-day” sections). It’s an effective recap, clearly produced with great love and respect, but the book remains the gold standard. (Jan.)
About the Author
Octavia Estelle Butler (1947–2006), often referred to as the “grand dame of science fiction,” was born in Pasadena, California, on June 22, 1947. She received an Associate of Arts degree in 1968 from Pasadena City College, and also attended California State University in Los Angeles and the University of California, Los Angeles. Butler was the first science-fiction writer to win a MacArthur Fellowship (“genius” grant). She won the PEN Lifetime Achievement Award and the Nebula and Hugo Awards, among others.
Her website is www.octaviabutler.org.
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