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Parable of the Sower (novel)

Parable of the Sower is the first in a two-book series of science fiction novels by American writer Octavia E. Butler. It was published in 1993.[1]

Parable of the Sower
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author Octavia E. Butler
Country United States
Language English
Series Parable trilogy
Genre Dystopian, Science fiction novel
Publisher Four Walls Eight Windows
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 299 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN 0-941423-99-9 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 28255529
813/.54 20
LC Class PS3552.U827 P37 1993
Followed by Parable of the Talents



Set in a future where government has all but collapsed, Parable of the Sower centers on a young woman named Lauren Olamina who possesses what Butler dubbed hyperempathy – the ability to feel the perceived pain and other sensations of others – who develops a benign philosophical and religious system during her childhood in the remnants of a gated community in Los Angeles. When the community's security is compromised, her home is destroyed and her family murdered. She travels north with some survivors in a world outside the walls. Civil society has reverted to relative chaos due to resource scarcity and poverty. Mixed race relationships are stigmatized amid attacks against religious and ethnic minorities. A group forms around her as she founds a community where her religion, called Earthseed, can grow.

Proposed third Parable novelEdit

Butler had planned to write a third Parable novel, tentatively titled Parable of the Trickster, which would have focused on the community's struggle to survive on a new planet. She began this novel after finishing Parable of the Talents, and mentioned her work on it in a number of interviews, but at some point encountered writer's block. She eventually shifted her creative attention, resulting in Fledgling, her final novel. The various false starts for the novel can now be found among Butler's papers at the Huntington Library, as described in an article at the Los Angeles Review of Books.[2]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Nominated: 1994: Nebula Award for Best NovelParable of the Sower


Parable of the Sower was adapted as Parable of the Sower: The Concert Version, a work-in-progress opera written by American folk/blues musician Toshi Reagon in collaboration with her mother, singer and composer Bernice Johnson Reagon. The adaptation's libretto and musical score combine African-American spirituals, soul, rock and roll, and folk music into rounds to be performed by singers sitting in a circle. It was performed as part of The Public Theater's 2015 Under the Radar Festival in New York City.[3][4][5]

In popular cultureEdit

Parable of the Sower was referred to in hip hop artist Talib Kweli's song "Ms. Hill" off his mixtape Right About Now: The Official Sucka Free Mix CD. In the song, which is about Lauryn Hill, Kweli references how Lauryn Hill used to come into Nkiru (a bookstore Kweli owns in Brooklyn, New York) and liked to buy Octavia Butler books, namely Parable of the Sower.[citation needed] "We used to chill at Nkiru / her moms was a customer / she used to love to buy the books by Octavia Butler / Parable of the Sower, the main character's name was Lauren",[6]

In Lauren Beukes' 2013 novel The Shining Girls, the body of one of the victims, Jin-Sook Au, a social worker, is found with a copy of Parable of the Sower.

Part of the central verse of Earthseed "All that you touch you change, all that you change changes you" is included in track 2 and 6 of Sugar Candy Mountain's album 666.

The work of hip hop/R&B duo THEESatisfaction was influenced by Octavia Butler.[7] The third track from their 2012 album awE NaturalE, "Earthseed", contains themes from the Parable series: "Change there are few words / That you can say / We all watch things morphing everyday."[8]


  1. ^ Fox, Margalit (March 1, 2006). "Octavia E. Butler, Science Fiction Writer, Dies at 58". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Canavan, Gerry (June 9, 2014). ""There's Nothing New / Under The Sun, / But There Are New Suns": Recovering Octavia E. Butler's Lost Parables". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved May 19, 2016. 
  3. ^ Moon, Grace. "Toshi Reagon's Parable." Velvetpark: Art, Thought and Culture. 14 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Under the Radar 2015 – Octavia E. Butler'’s Parable of the Sower: The Concert Version" The New York Times. 18 January 2015.
  5. ^ "BK Live 1/14/15: Toshi Reagon." Brooklyn Independent Media. 16 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Ms. Hill". 
  7. ^ "Attention Earthlings!". 
  8. ^ "Earthseed - lyrics". 

External linksEdit