2008: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Parable of the SowerThe Washington Post describes Octavia Butler as “one of the finest voices in fiction period. A master storyteller who casts an unflinching eye on racism, sexism, poverty and ignorance and lets the reader see the terror and beauty of human nature.” Octavia has described herself as an outsider, and “a pessimist, a feminist always, a Black, a quiet egoist, a former Baptist, and an oil-and-water combination of ambition, laziness, insecurity, certainty, and drive.” [Washington Post, February 26 2006]

Octavia Butler wrote her first story when she was ten years old. Race and slavery are recurring themes in her work. Her first novel, Kindred, published in 1979, tells the story of a black woman transported back in time to the antebellum South to save the life of the white son of a slave owner who turns out to be her ancestor. Octavia is the author of a dozen books, numerous essays and short stories. Her most recent novel, Fledgling, an examination of the Dracula legend, was published in 2005.

Octavia Butler is the recipient of many awards, including the MacArthur “genius” award and the Hugo Award (Science Fiction Achievement Award). She received the 1999 Nebula Award for her novel The Parable of the Talents (sequel to the Parable of the Sower).

Williams Reads 2008 is sponsored by:

  • Committee on Diversity and Community
  • Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity
  • Williams College Libraries

Get Your Free Copy!

Free copies of the books available at:

  • Paresky Mail Room
  • Sawyer Library Lobby
  • Science Atrium

About the Book and the Author

More on Octavia Butler
(If you are off-campus, you may need to use the Proxy Server to connect.)
About the Author Interviews Book Reviews
Profile from Contemporary Black Biography(Biography Resource Center database)Octavia E. Butler: in her science fiction she projects the answers to society’s ills, Lisa See Kendall. Publishers Weekly, Dec 13, 1993, p50(2) Video interview with discussion of the Parable of the Sower and Fledgling. (Starts at 48:11, near end of the program). NPR’s Scott Simon. O. Butler on a world without racism. Parable of the Sower (Book Review), Hoda Zaki
The Women’s Review of Books, July 1994, p37(2)The relationship between community and subjectivity in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, Clara Escoda Agusti
Extrapolation, Fall 2005, p351(9)

Schedule of Events

Opening Night Public Reading
January 4, 7:00 p.m., Paresky’s Baxter Hall

Film Showing: Gattaca
January 14, 7:00 p.m., Images Cinema, free.
Starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, this film depicts a society where genetic perfection (or lack thereof) determines everything. Discussion to follow with Biology Professor Jason Wilder.

Discussion Groups for staff, faculty, students
Wed. January 16, noon
Bring your own lunch
with Religion Professor Denise Buell and Lauren Bloch ’09 Henze Lounge, 2nd floor Paresky
Wed. January 16, 4:00 p.m. with English Professor Alison Case Henze Lounge, 2nd floor Paresky
Thu. January 17, 4:00 p.m. with Associate Director of Admission Dr. Lili Rodriguez and Anthony Molina ’09 Henze Lounge, 2nd floor Paresky
Tue. January 22, 4:00 p.m. with Africana Studies Professor Stéphane Robolin Henze Lounge, 2nd floor Paresky
Wed. January 23, noon
Bring your own lunch
with Coordinator of Community Engagement Stewart Burns and Paulette Rodriguez ’08 Center for Community Engagement, Paresky 204