The first science fiction written by a black woman, “Kindred” has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
I am not sure the claim that this was the “first” science fiction written by a black woman (as noted in the description, but it certainly may be one of the best well-known. This book is so intriguing because Dana is a modern woman with modern perspectives until she finds herself in antebellum Maryland. This is an important perspective because I think many people tend to understate or make assumptions about individual’s view of life during that time. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this makes the situation visceral and relatable. I certainly found myself horrified at a few different points.
It had been quite a while before I re-reviewed this book to remind myself about it and it all came flooding back to me. In my opinion, this book sticks with you much more than many other books tackling such difficult topics. I’d definitely list this as required reading if you can squeeze in the time.
Warning: Contains repeated violence.
Rating: 5 stars!
Who should read it? Anyone who wants to try to get an inkling of what it would be to be yourself during slavery (modern perspectives and all).