The premise of Butler’s science fiction historical novel is simple enough: a 1970s African American woman suddenly finds herself time traveling back into the antebellum South, where she becomes (or rather, is) a slave. But without spoiling the many amazing places where Butler takes her story from there, I’ll just say that she is centrally concerned with some of the most genuinely historical and American themes: family and legacies, race and its continuous yet shifting presence and meanings, love and hope and hatred and death, community and identity in our past, present, and (it is science fiction after all!) future. One of our most unique, significant, and compelling American novels, historical or otherwise.
Next nominee tomorrow,
PS. Any nominations?
5/2 Memory Day nominee: Albion Tourgée, who’s on my short list of most inspiring Americans, for all the reasons detailed in that post and more.