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Octavia Butler's 'Kindred' is being discovered by new readers, and now viewers

Executive Producer/Writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins attends the red carpet premiere of FX’s “Kindred” in Hollywood, California.
Executive Producer/Writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins attends the red carpet premiere of FX’s “Kindred” in Hollywood, California.

Imagine suddenly being pulled back in time, without warning or explanation. Where is the place you’d least like to go? 

In the 1979 novel “Kindred,” author Octavia Butler sent her main character – a Black woman – back to the antebellum south of the 1800s. Dana lands amongst her ancestors, who were owned as slaves.  

The sci-fi book is a modern classic – a cornerstone of afro-futurism that made waves in a genre dominated by white men. “Kindred”is still being discovered by new readers today – and by viewers.  

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins adapted “Kindred” into a new FX series of the same name on Hulu, which premiered Dec. 13. Jacobs-Jenkins is a talented writer in his own right, having received the 2014 Obie Award for Best New American Play for “Appropriate” and “An Octoroon.”

He’s also a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama, and was the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant.” His previous TV production credits include the 2019 HBO series “Watchmen” and the Prime Video sci-fi series “Outer Range.”

We speak with Jacobs-Jenkins about making the first on-screen adaptation of the late, and pioneering Octavia Butler’s work and why it still resonates with readers, and now viewers, decades later.

Copyright 2022 WAMU 88.5

Avery Kleinman, Anna Casey