Octavia Butler: another author for our times

Or, basically, any times. But, like Saunders below, her work is echoing loudly right now. I’ve been going back to read through some genre classics lately, including Solaris by Lem, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Miller, Left Hand of Darkness by Le Guin, etc. I should really put Butler on there as well to reacquaint with Kindred.

A revolutionary voice in her lifetime, Butler has only become more popular and influential since her death 14 years ago, at age 58. Her novels, including “Dawn,” “Kindred” and “Parable of the Sower,” sell more than 100,000 copies each year, according to her former literary and the manager of her estate, Merrillee Heifetz. Toshi Reagon has adapted “Parable of the Sower” into an opera, and Viola Davis and Ava DuVernay are among those working on streaming series based on her work. Grand Central Publishing is reissuing many of her novels this year and the Library of America welcomes her to the canon in 2021 with a volume of her fiction.

A generation of younger writers cite her as an influence, from Jemisin and Tochi Onyebuchi to Marlon James and Nnedi Okarafor, currently working on a screenplay for the Butler novel “Wild Seed” for the production company run by Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon. Davis, in a recent interview with The Associated Press, said she began reading Butler while attending the Juilliard school 30 years ago.

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