Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred

Cardiff BookTalk is delighted to invite you to our March 2021 event, which will consider Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred

Dana is moving boxes of books into the new apartment she will share with her husband, when she suddenly feels sick, collapses and awakes by the side of a river in the woods. Hearing the screams of a drowning child, she plunges into the water and saves him, only to have a gun barrel shoved in her face. Then, soaking wet, covered in mud and terrified, she finds herself back at home. She can’t explain what has happened, but minutes later she is again whisked from her own era to Maryland in 1815 – a dangerous place for a Black woman. But the horrors and degradations of slavery are not the only threat. The boy she saved from the river is the son of a slave-owner and it seems that her fate is inextricably bound up with his. Face to face with her ancestors, can she escape with her future intact? 

One of the great books of the twentieth century, a best-seller that has long been a staple of the school and university syllabus in the USA, Kindred is a novel of time travel that asks us to examine our present as well as our past. Both a powerful novel of Black history and a gripping page-turner, Kindred’s power and relevance is undimmed after forty years.  

Winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler wrote about marginalized characters and violent oppression. Disenchanted by the white, male-dominated science fiction that she devoured as a reader she often spoke of her mission as ‘writing herself in’ to the genre. Her novels include the Patternists series of novels, the Xenogenesis trilogy and the more recent dystopias of her Earthseed books. 

Guiding us in our discussion of Kindred, Cardiff University’s Dr Alix Beeston will be welcoming three expert speakers: 

Josie Gill (University of Bristol) is Senior Lecturer in Black British Writing at the University of Bristol. Her monograph Biofictions: Race, Genetics and the Contemporary Novel was published by Bloomsbury in 2020. She will be talking about ‘Epigenetics and Racist Environments in Kindred‘  

Britney Henry (University of Delaware) is a doctoral student of English Literature at The University of Delaware. Her scholarly interests include American literature, popular culture, and Black cultural studies. Britney will be presenting ‘Prototype of Sunken Place: Reading Jordan Peeles Get Out through Octavia Butlers Kindred as Black Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction Narratives.’ 

David Shackleton (Cardiff University) is a lecturer in English Literature at Cardiff University. He is currently working on a monograph called ‘Anthropocene Modernism: Time, History and the Novel’ and his work focusses on the representation of time in literature, the links between literature and visual cultures and the ways in which they engage – or fail to engage – with the climate crisis. His talk is called ‘Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Speculative Time and Afrofuturism

Each of our speakers will present a 10-15 minute talk, and then there is an opportunity for audience questions and discussion. To make the most of the session, you may like to read Kindred. Further recommended texts include Butler’s novels The Parable of the Sower, Fledgling and Wild Seed as well as the Jordan Peele movies Get Out and Us

The event is free and open to all. Book your place with Eventbrite via this link:  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cardiff-booktalk-octavia-butler-registration-124678445587?aff=ebdsoporgprofile

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