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Graphic Novel Review
When Octavia E. Butler’s book Kindred was published, it garnered a lot of attention, mostly because while there are many books written about time travel, there are almost none by an African American woman. She was able to interweave her story with strands of a romance, a historical drama and an indictment of slavery.
The story tells of Dana a young, twenty-six year old, African American woman. With her husband she has relocated from Los Angeles and, like many young women, looks forward to settling down in her new home and the life experiences that this may entail. What she wasn’t expecting was to be physically drawn back to the Deep South at a time when slavery was rife. What appears to be drawing her back is a young boy named Rufus who seems to be able to rip her through time when his life is at risk.
On their first meeting she saves him from drowning, the second from a fire. Through the story she discovers that there is a familial link between the two.
This January , Abrams Comic Arts are releasing the story as a graphic novel, adapted by Damian Duffy with illustration by John Jennings. The book, which was sent, was an uncorrected proof and clearly a work in progress; the finished book will be a full colour hardback. The novel runs to two hundred and forty pages and the adaptation has done well to keep both the structure and content of the original book without sacrificing important narrative. There is a forward by Nnedi Okorafor describing her personal connection with the author.
There was a reason that Octavia's book struck a note with its readership. There had been many novels and films which depicted slavery; however Octavia was the first person to place a modern African American woman in that period. Importantly it not only held a light up to the injustice which was inflicted on a section of human beings, but also showed that, in some ways, not enough has changed.
The novel does not shy away from either the verbal or pictorial representation of the daily violence under which African Americans toiled, making for sometimes a difficult read and there will be made available a teaching guide and discussion questions.
As it stands the finish graphic novel will be an interesting and challenging read.