This is such a good book I’m going to finish the series (of 2) so I’m in line at the library – they say 2 weeks but … (I might buy it early but …?)
Major idea as advocated by Lauren, the protagonist:
“All that you touch You Change./All that you Change Changes you./The only lasting truth Is Change./God Is Change”
Parable of the Sower
by Octavia Butler 1993
read by Lynn Thigpen 12 h
Rating: 9 / dystopian fiction
(both read and listened)
“This is also an almost necessary analysis of late-stage capitalism and American nationalism.”
The Parable of the Sower was first published in 1993 but is prescient in some ways with the idea of our society going backwards ala The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
Also, this book fits pretty well in some ways with The Dawn of Everything (David Graeber and David Wengrow) which the AllNonfiction Group is now reading. This is because in The Parable of the Sower climate change and the wealth gap have apparently reduced humanity to some basics. It seems like humans have become barbaric. Many of them don’t even read and write anymore (pre-historic). And that’s what the G&W book is about – prehistoric communities.
What with climate change the wealth gap of society and a new national administration, society collapses and people migrate north. After a few years of their own serious difficulties at home outside of LA the 17-year old Lauren Olamina, age 17, goes too, along with two other young people she knows. Their families have been killed in a fire.
Lauren is “empathic,” feeling the pain of others. This is not a joke or a fantasy – the condition is sometimes physical.
And from the book, “If hyper-empthathy syndrome were a common complaint, people couldn’t do such things.” p. 115
I don’t know what’s happened to birth control in this era but nobody seems to have it.
Lauren Olamina is 15 years old when the story starts and about 18 when she starts her journey to freedom or her spiritual destination. Her father is a Baptist minister, her mother died, but she has a stepmother who means well, but is somewhat ineffectual. The family is Black and is well-to-do compared to some of their neighbors who all live on a cul-de-sac with a wall around it. They hear that it’s much worse in LA, about 30 miles away.
The book is written as a kind of journal but Lauren also writes regularly in a notebook she calls Earthseed.
Their president seems rather prescient in that it looks (to me) like a fascist man has been elected – President Donner. According to Lauren Donner wants to go back a century or so – to the “good old days.”
Biblical passages are referred to from time to time. “Thou shalt not kill” vs “fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” But Lauren has found a new way of believing and wants to start a religion. She writes a book at some point and parts are quoted throughout The Parable of the Sower. But the violence increases and people get poorer and more desperate. The people in Lauren’s community get more scared, more desperate.
“Stumbling across the truth isn’t the same as making things up.” – Lauren after being accused of making Earthseed up.
There have been catastrophes of fire and flood and earthquakes and so on and most of the damage has not been repaired because people don’t have that kind of money. Gangs with guns run the streets and neighborhoods and corpses and rape victims are a common sight. And times are getting worse.
I’ll get Book 2. I want to know what happens.