Flames rise on the left side set on a black and red graffiti background. Smoke is spreading from the left to the right side. "One City, One Read" is in bright yellow letters, along with "Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler" in white.

Take a deeper dive into the timely themes of the the citywide One City. One Read selection. Explore topics such as climate change, poverty, Afrofuturism, and more with our micro branches and events.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler is a groundbreaking science fiction novel that tells the story of Lauren Olamina. Lauren and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. After Lauren’s town is destroyed by an outlaw group of drug addicts, she must learn to survive in a world reeling from the devastating effects of climate change. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

Today, Parable of the Sower is heralded as one of the first major works of climate fiction. It was the winner of multiple awards, including the 1994 New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and has been adapted into a concert and a graphic novel. Octavia Butler and her works continue to be a significant cultural influence well beyond the science fiction genre.

You can check out a copy of Parable of the Sower in-person at any of our library locations or online from our Hoopla electronic library.

If you are interested in books with similar themes be sure to check out our micro branches. Use the links below to instantly discover titles that can be check out in-person, or a selection of e-books available online 24/7.

Young Minds and Teen Picks

Our Young Minds micro branch include a selection of books for children and young readers readers that explore themes of climate change, antiracism, Black sci-fi, and survival stories.

Star Child by Ibi Zoboi is this year’s companion read for students in grades 4-6. Zoboi illuminates the young life of the visionary storyteller Octavia E. Butler in poems and prose. Exploring how events of her childhood helped to shape her into a groundbreaking science-fiction storyteller.

You can borrow Star Child in-person or online from our Overdrive electronic library.

Our Teen Librarian has also curated a list of science fiction and social justice films related to the themes of Parable of the Sower. They are available for check out either in-person or online from Kanopy. Be sure to check out the Teen Film Screenings happening at Ives Main Library on May 4 and 5, co-sponsored by Students for Educational Justice. You can find more information on the program below.

Events at NHFPL

SPECIAL EVENT – A Night with Author Tochi Onyebuchi

Ives Main Library

Thursday, May 19 at 6 pm

Join us for an exploration of the works of local, bestselling, and award-winning author Tochi Onyebuchi, with highlights from his latest book, Goliath, set in New Haven.

This program is in conjunction with the New Haven’s One City, One Read initiative celebrating the works of Octavia Butler, specifically Parable of the Sower, and the importance of representation in science fiction.

In addition to his new novel, Goliath, Onyebuchi’s previous fiction includes Riot Baby, a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and NAACP Image Awards and winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction, the Ignyte Award for Best Novella, and the World Fantasy Award; the Beasts Made of Night series; and the War Girls series. His short fiction has appeared in The Best American Science-Fiction, The Year’s Best Science Fiction, and elsewhere. His non-fiction includes the book (S)kinfolk and has appeared in The New York Times, NPR, and the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, among other places. He has earned degrees from Yale University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia Law School, and the Paris Institute of Political Studies.

About Goliath:

In the 2050s, Earth has begun to empty. Those with the means and the privilege have departed the great cities of the United States for the more comfortable confines of space colonies. Those left behind salvage what they can from the collapsing infrastructure. As they eke out an existence, their neighborhoods are being cannibalized. Brick by brick, their houses are sent to the colonies, what was once a home now a quaint reminder for the colonists of the world that they wrecked.

A primal biblical epic flung into the future, Goliath weaves together disparate narratives―a space-dweller looking at New Haven, Connecticut, as a chance to reconnect with his spiraling lover; a group of laborers attempting to renew the promises of Earth’s crumbling cities; a journalist attempting to capture the violence of the streets; a marshal trying to solve a kidnapping―into a richly urgent mosaic about race, class, gentrification, and who is allowed to be the hero of any history.

Description provided by AK Press

Book Clubs and Discussions

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Fair Haven Branch
Monday, April 11 at 2 pm

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
NHFPL/Prospect Public Library Joint Book Club
Thursday, April 28 at 7 pm
Join via Zoom

Reflection on Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and comparison with My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
Urban Life Experience Book Club
Wilson Branch
Saturday, May 14 at 12 pm

Parable of the Sower Community Conversation facilitated by Kulturally LIT
Stetson Branch
Wednesday, May 25 at 6:30 pm

Parable Film Festival

Tuesday, May 3 at Wilson Branch Library:

5:30 pm – Climate Refugees: The Global Human Impact of Climate Change
2010 / 86 min / Directed by Justin Hogan and Michael Nash / USA
Documentary film to exploring in-depth the global human impact of climate change and its serious destabilizing effect on international politics.

Wednesday, May 4 at Ives Main Library:

12:00 pm – Silent Star
1960/93 min/Directed by Kurt Maetzig/Former East Germany
The first science-fiction film brought out in East Germany and featuring a diverse cast for the time, The Silent Star is based on Stanislaw Lem’s mysterious novel, The Astronauts (1951).

2:00 pm – Metropolis
1927 (Silent Film)/153 min/Directed by Fritz Lang/Germany
One of the most famous and influential silent films, Metropolis takes place in 2026, when the populace is divided between workers who must live in the dark underground and the rich who enjoy a futuristic city of splendor. The tense balance of these two societies is realized through images that are among the most famous of the 20th century.

5:30 pm – Sorry to Bother You
2018/112 min/Directed by Boots Riley/USA
An American surrealist Black comedy film in which a young telemarketer is swept into a corporate conspiracy.

Thursday, May 5 at Ives Main Library:

12:00 pm – Attack on the Block
2011/88 min/directed by Joe Cornish/UK
South London teenagers defend their neighborhood from malevolent extraterrestrials.

2:00 pm – Stalker
1979/161 minutes/directed by Andrei Tarkovsky/Former Soviet Union
In an unnamed country at an unspecified time, there is a fiercely protected post-apocalyptic wasteland known as The Zone. A guide leads two men through the Zone to find a room that grants wishes.

5:30 pm – Brown Girl Begins
2017/95 min/directed by Sharon Lewis/Canada
A film inspired by Nalo Hopkinson’s sci-fi novel, Brown Girl in the Ring. In 2049, Ti-Jeanne must revive Caribbean spirits and survive a possession ritual to save her people who are confined to an island off the mainland of Toronto.

Teen Film Screenings

Alita Battle Angel
Wednesday, May 4 from 5 pm-6:30 pm
Ives Main Library
Film Screening for teens in grades 7-12.

The Hate U Give
Thursday, May 5 from 4-6:30 pm
Ives Main Library
Film Screening for teens in grades 7-12 followed by discussion/activities

Co-Sponsored by Students for Educational Justice

Star Child Read-Along with Ainissa Ramirez

Wednesday, April 27, 4 pm
Mitchell Library
This program will focus on Star Child, the Octavia Butler biography for children, by Ibi Zoboi. There will be a read-along, along with a presentation by Ainissa Ramirez, author of The Alchemy of Us. Ms. Ramirez will give a presentation on how learning about Octavia Butler influenced her as an author. Materials will be available for the children to create their own “zine.”

Don’t Miss any of the One Read Events Happening Across New Haven!

Be sure to check out the Arts & Ideas website for the entire calendar of One City. One Read. events relating to Parable of the Sower taking place throughout April and May!