Content warning Minor plot information
Octavia E Butler published Kindred in 1978, but started writing it a couple of years earlier. So it's coming up for its 50th anniversary, but it honestly doesn't feel like it.
By using the device of (inadvertent) time travel to send an intelligent, educated middle-class 20th century Black American woman into the Southern USA before the Civil War, Butler tries to bring the horrors and cruelties of slavery to the attention of readers who might not otherwise go near a history book.
Obviously everyone knows that slavery was terrible, but the book really focuses your mind on how arbitrary decisions made by a slave owner, almost on a whim, could rip families apart and result in brutal punishment for minor offences or even none at all.
Rather than being a more Hollywood-esque "triumph of good over evil" story, it actually shows the main character becoming more and more accepting of her fate as time goes on, as she realises that any attempt to beat the system is futile. But at the same time, by bringing her 20th-century sensibilities to people who might at times be cruel but are (for the most part) not intentionally sadistic, Dana also manages to slightly improve her lot as well as those of the other enslaved people in the household.
I'd definitely recommend the book. The prose is easy to read but never superficial, and the plot moves along at a fair old pace. My only real criticism is that there is no satisfactory explanation for why the two main characters' lives suddenly become intertwined across 150 years of separation. It's really just a plot device to bring in the main story and as such, although this is often classed as a science fiction novel, I don't think it really fits into that category.