OCTAVIA ESTELLE BUTLER
OCTAVIA ESTELLE BUTLER | she/her (author, June 22, 1947–February 24, 2006) was a renowned African American author and the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and a PEN Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. Born in Pasadena in 1947, she was raised by her mother (a housemaid) and her grandmother. The author of many award-winning novels, including Parable of the Sower (1993), a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year,” and Parable of the Talents (1995), winner of the Nebula Award for the best science fiction novel published that year, she was far ahead of her time: though the MacArthur Grant made life easier in later years, she struggled for decades when her dystopian novels exploring themes of Black injustice, global warming, women’s rights, and political disparity were, to say the least, not in commercial demand. During these years of obscurity, Butler, always an early riser, woke at 2am every day to write, and then went to work as, among other things, a telemarketer, potato chip inspector, and dishwasher. At the time of her death in 2006, interest in her books was beginning to rise, and in recent years, her work has become timely and hugely popular among all kinds of readers. Sales have increased worldwide, her work is taught in over 200 colleges and universities nationwide, and a graphic novel adaptation of her book Kindred was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller in 2017. In other media, her novel Dawn is being developed for television by Ava DuVernay (Selma A Wrinkle In Time) and other works are also in production. Currently, Toshi Reagon’s opera based on Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower is touring worldwide.