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Octavia Butler's classic novel still feels relevant

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

First published in 1979, Octavia Butler's Kindred takes place in 1976 — our nation’s bicentennial. The main character, Dana, is a 26-year-old Black woman living in Los Angeles, trying to make it as a writer. Her husband Kevin, who is white and older than Dana, is also a writer. As they are settling into a new house together, Dana finds herself suddenly transported through time and space to the antebellum south. In the past, she encounters her ancestors and has to figure out how to survive — and help her ancestors survive — as a young Black woman in a slave state.

We listen back to this conversation from the Talk of Iowa Book Club. Host Charity Nebbe is joined by expert readers Lakesia Johnson, Akwi Nji and Amaya Dawson.

This conversation was originally produced June 15, 2021


  • Lakesia Johnson, associate professor and department chair of gender, somen’s and sexuality studies at Grinnell College
  • Akwi Nji, artist, poet and storyteller from Cedar Rapids
  • Amaya Dawson, student at Cedar Rapids Washington High School
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Katherine Perkins is IPR's Program Director for News and Talk