Staff Recommendation: Parable of the Sower

Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower.

Greenfield Open Stacks PS3552 .U827 P37 2016

Science fiction makes us aware of our sight’s present limitations, highlighting the gap between what is and what could be. Octavia E. Butler’s sci-fi centers around survival as a result of dark radical shifts in future society. Parable of the Sower, published in 1993 but set in 2020s America, forces reflection onto its readers—especially when read in 2018.

The book is composed of journal entries by protagonist Lauren Olamina, a teenager born with hyperempathy, sharing the physical pain of others she witnesses. The world around Lauren is collapsing due to corporate greed, climate change, racism, hostile police presence, gun violence, and walls. Following the brutal loss of her family and neighborhood, she is forced to navigate an altered world on her own in an attempt to walk north from California with no true destination, excruciatingly hindered by her hyperempathy.

Lauren’s beam of hope in this dystopia is her development of a new belief system called “Earthseed.” Its ultimate mantra is to accept Change in order to grow—the idea that Change is the lasting truth no matter how extreme. “God is Change; Embrace diversity or be destroyed.”

Butler wrote the ideas behind Earthseed out of the American fear of the unknown, and the potential for history to repeat itself over time. As a Black writer in a world that washes over people of color and racial politics in sci-fi, Butler’s books embed race into the narrative, just as it is embedded into reality. Parable of the Sower makes us reconsider the current state of our country, placing us in a state of anxiety alongside an acceptance to move forward with empathy and power.

I absolutely recommend picking up and checking out this book at the Greenfield Library Open Stacks (call # PS3552 .U827 .P37 2016.) There is also a graphic novel adaptation of Butler’s awesome book Kindred, which can be found as an eBook through EBSCOHost. Happy reading and reflecting!

~ Recommended by Victoria Schenck, Greenfield Library Circulation Assistant 

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