In Kindred, Dana a black woman in the mid 1970s in America, is settling in to her new home with her husband when she is struck with a dizzy spell and is mysteriously and immediately transported to the time of slavery, to a plantation, and finds herself face-to-face with a scared little boy, the son of a plantation owner. Who is he? Why is she here? This story answers these questions and more as Dana finds herself tethered to this place, with little control over when/where she is, and for how long.
The conceit was fascinating and overall I would say the execution good, but I personally wanted a little more from Butler’s plain prose and had to prod myself to keep reading. This was definitely an excellent book club pick, lots to examine and unpack, and I am glad I read it. I can’t say I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t written to be enjoyed, but to tell a story and to make you think, and to that end, Butler was successful.
I found one of the CBR conversation prompts to be particularly interesting.
CBR Q: What do you think of the way Butler portrays the mundane and dramatic experiences of slave life?
My response: Mundane is a good word. Overall I feel like the prose of this novel was super plain, but I think that contributed to the story.
So, I would estimate that sort of the point of the book was to highlight the plodding stillness of a life in slavery, the same thing, day after day, the lack of hope, and the desolate resolution of existence. Those parts of the novel really drew me in, but I wanted more from the parts where Dana was in modern times. Both she and her husband fell flat for me. I think if she had focused a little more attention there, she would have ended up with a more well-rounded book.