1. I’m at a fashion show in my junior year of high school, a biracial Congolese-American geek surrounded not by Africans, but by African Americans. I don’t look out of place, but I feel it. Even the book vendor’s tables have nothing that represents my experience: second-generation halfrican raised in middle-class white suburbia.

‘What do you like to read?’ the vendor asks as I turn to leave. I pause and tell him, sure he has nothing for me – if there is spec fic with black anything, I’d have found it by now. To my surprise, he puts a book in my hands and says, ‘You need to read this. This book will change your life.’

I take it, sure he’s wrong, but see a bald, beautiful, proud black woman on the cover. I read the back of the book. The woman is African. I read the first paragraph and surface pages later: yes, she is African, older than my grandmother’s grandmother. Her journey will take her to America alongside the slave trade, and a race of black, mutant-superpower-wielding human beings will spin out from her and the man she meets in that first encounter. And the writing is good. Like, really good. I make myself stop reading and buy the book: Wild Seed. It’s the only Butler book he has. Some part of me must already have believed what the book vendor said, because those few minutes are fixed in my memory as a turning point, a revelation.

Octavia Butler, African American Literature, African American Writers, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN

Octavia Butler, African American Literature, African American Writers, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN


Wild Seed is a science fiction novel by American writer Octavia Butler. Although published in 1980 as the fourth book of the Patternist series, it is the earliest book in the chronology of the Patternist world. The other books in the series are, in order within the Patternist chronology: Mind of My Mind (1977), Clay’s Ark (1984), Survivor (1978), and Patternmaster (1976). (Wikipedia).


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KOLUMN Magazine celebrates the lives of People of Color by giving our world texture.