Writer Spotlight: Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler is an African American science fiction writer who has received the MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement. She is the first science fiction author to win the MacArthur grant. She explored the themes of Black injustice, global warming, women’s rights, and politics in her science fiction novels. Despite winning awards for her writing, she still struggled for decades to make ends meet because her novels were not commercial. Because of this, she was a hard worker, having at least three jobs at a time on top of her own writing.

Like many notable artists, her novels started getting the most traction at the time of her death, a young 58-years-old, her novels only becoming more popular as the topics of interest became more outspoken.

Her best-selling novel is Kindred, published in 1979. This novel is about an African-American woman who meets her ancestors, a slaveholder and a black freewoman who was forced into slavery late in life. Dana, the main character, is summoned to save the slaveholder. Throughout the story, she is drawn back in time through the slave quarters. This book touches upon racism, sexism, and white supremacy.

Octavia is the author of over fifteen books and over twenty different awards for her books. She notably stood out as a woman science fiction writer, who were few and far between in her lifetime.

At 58, Octavia died from a stroke in 2006.

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