Eastern guest English professor makes adaptation of time travel book ‘Kindred’


Satya Donavalli

Students and faculty attend a lecture, “Touching the Past in a Radio Adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred” by Dr. Andre Carrington in Coleman Hall Auditorium on Tuesday afternoon, April 12, 2022 in Charleston, Ill.

Adriana Hernandez-Santana, Campus Reporter

Eastern invited guest speaker, Andre Carrington, an associate professor of English at the University of California Riverside, to give listeners a peek into his work on the radio adaptation of Octavia Butler’s book “Kindred.”

Carrington virtually talked about Octavia Butler. Although Butler has passed on, the legacy she left behind is quite impressive. 

Being awarded the Genius Grant for her science fiction writing, Butler was an extremely unique African American author. 

Her book “Kindred,” is a story about a young African American writer named Dana. She finds herself being whisked away from her normal life in Los Angeles, and instead, is found sometime in the pre-Civil war at a plantation. It’s at this plantation that she meets some of her ancestry, and some of the struggles that they have to endure on a daily basis. In order to survive, she has to put down some of her pride in order to return back to her normal life. 

According to his studies on her books, Carrington describes Butler’s work as a “grim fantasy rather than a science fiction novel.”

As Carrington continues on to explain the plot of the book, he notes how this book is used to help teach American history students. 

This is done in way to teach students the severity of slavery, while doing in a manner that allows time travel to be a part of the tale. As a way to get the history of slavery across to students, this book proves to be a very interesting and productive way to do it. 

“What interests me about it and I hope interests you is how a form of historical evidence that consumers decided to incorporate into the adaptation of “Kindred” lose the odd notations of fiction, fantasy and reality through the efficiency of black women’s performance,” Carrington said. 

There are also a number of reenactments of this book, some of the most common ones are done over radio or by a movie. Be warned that it is considered a bit difficult to watch. 

The one scene that stands out to most people is when Dana is trying to help another black woman named Sarah, and her family, how to read. Angered by her betrayal, her slave owner proceeds to beat her nearly to death. 

“Although it’s challenging to witness the reenactment of this violence, perceiving it through the memory of a survivor helps to transmute suffering into wisdom… Literature can transport us back to another place and can also bring us back for better or worse,” Carrington said. 

The book “Kindred” being an interesting adaptation to true life events. African American author Octavia Butler puts an interesting twist on her story to help individuals learn about the true struggles slaves had to endure before they were officially freed. 

Carrington and his studies of her work gives students an opportunity to learn not only about history, but about a woman who portrayed history in her own unique way. 


Adriana Hernandez-Santana can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].