Booker Prize-Winning Author of The Blind Assassin and Payback
A winner of many international literary awards, including the prestigious Booker Prize, Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children's literature, fiction, and non-fiction. She is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman, The Handmaid's Tale, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood. Her non-fiction book Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, part of the Massey Lecture series, was made into a documentary. Her recent novel, Madaddam (the third novel in the Oryx and Crake trilogy), has received rave reviews: "An extraordinary achievement" (The Independent); "A fitting and joyous conclusion" (The New York Times). The trilogy is being adapted into an HBO TV series by celebrated filmmaker Darren Aronofsky. Atwood's most recent collection of short stories is Stone Mattress. Her new novel, The Heart Goes Last, will be published in September 2015 by Random House.
Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.
An Evening with Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood can speak on a wide range of issues relating to literature, social activism, political engagement, the creative process, the artist's role in society, technology and art, and, of course, her own accomplished body of work. Her pithy observations and witty comments enlighten and challenge audiences to think critically about our relationship to words and language. "The answers you get from literature," she has said, "depend on the questions you pose."
The Heart Goes Last
The Heart Goes Last tells the story of Charmaine and Stan, a couple living in their car and surviving almost entirely on tips. Their lives take a drastic turn, however, when they sign up for a “social experiment” that provides them with jobs and a home. The caveat, though, is that the couple must do a stint in a prison cell every second month, while an "alternate" pair occupies their house. According to the publisher, Charmaine and Stan become obsessed with their alternates, and "the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over.”
Available September 2014
In these nine dazzlingly inventive and rewarding stories, Margaret Atwood's signature dark humour, playfulness, and deadly seriousness are in abundance. In "Freeze-Dried Bridegroom," a man who bids on a storage locker has a surprise. In "Lusus Naturae," a woman with a genetic abnormality is mistaken for a vampire. In "I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth," we remeet Tony, Charis, and Roz from The Robber Bride, but, years later, as their nemesis is seen in an unexpected form. In "Torching the Dusties," an elderly lady with Charles Bonnet's syndrome comes to terms with the little people she keeps seeing, while a newly formed populist group gathers to burn down her retirement residence. In "Stone Mattress," a long-ago crime is revenged in the Arctic. This is classic Margaret Atwood, and she is at the very top of her form.
Months after the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of humanity, Toby and Ren have rescued their friend Amanda from the vicious Painballers. They return to the MaddAddamite cob house, which is being fortified against man and giant Pigoon alike. Accompanying them are the Crakers, the gentle, quasi-human species engineered by the brilliant but deceased Crake. While their reluctant prophet, Jimmy -- Crake's one-time friend -- recovers from a debilitating fever, it's left to Toby to narrate the Craker theology, with Crake as Creator. She must also deal with cultural misunderstandings, terrible coffee, and her jealousy over her lover, Zeb.
Meanwhile, Zeb searches for Adam One, founder of the God's Gardeners, the pacifist green religion from which Zeb broke years ago to lead the MaddAddamites in active resistance against the destructive CorpSeCorps. Now, under threat of an imminent Painballer attack, the MaddAddamites must fight back with the aid of their newfound allies, some of whom have four trotters.
At the centre, is the extraordinary story of Zeb's past, which involves a lost brother, a hidden murder, a bear, and a bizarre act of revenge.
Combining adventure, humour, romance, superb storytelling, and an imagination that is at once dazzlingly inventive and grounded in a recognizable world, MaddAddam is vintage Margaret Atwood, and a moving and dramatic conclusion to her internationally celebrated dystopian trilogy.
The Year of the Flood
The long-awaited new novel from Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood is a brilliant visionary imagining of the future that calls to mind her classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale.
Adam One, the kindly leader of God’s Gardeners — a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion — has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have been spared: Ren, a young trapeze-dancer, locked inside a high-end sex club; and one of God’s Gardeners, Toby, who is barricaded inside a luxurious spa. Have others survived?
By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and witty, The Year of the Flood unfolds Toby’s and Ren’s stories during the years prior to their meeting again. The novel not only brilliantly reflects to us a world we recognize but poignantly reminds us of our enduring humanity.
Oryx and Crake
Atwood has visited the future before, in her dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale. In her latest, the future is even bleaker. The triple whammy of runaway social inequality, genetic technology and catastrophic climate change, has finally culminated in some apocalyptic event. As Jimmy, apparently the last human being on earth, makes his way back to the RejoovenEsencecompound for supplies, the reader is transported backwards toward that cataclysmic event, its full dimensions gradually revealed.
Jimmy grew up in a world split between corporate compounds (gated communities metastasized into city-states) and pleeblands (unsafe, populous and polluted urban centers). His best friend was "Crake," the name originally his handle in an interactive Net game, Extinctathon. Even Jimmy's mother-who ran off and joined an ecology guerrilla group when Jimmy was an adolescent-respected Crake, already a budding genius. The two friends first encountered Oryx on the Net; she was the eight-year-old star of a pedophilic film on a site called HottTotts. Oryx's story is a counterpoint to Jimmy and Crake's affluent adolescence. She was sold by her Southeast Asian parents, taken to the city and eventually made into a sex "pixie" in some distant country. Jimmy meets Oryx much later-after college, after Crake gets Jimmy a job with ReJoovenEsence. Crake is designing the Crakers-a new, multicolored placid race of human beings, smelling vaguely of citron. He's procured Oryx to be his personal assistant. She teaches the Crakers how to cope in the world and goes out on secret missions.
The mystery on which this riveting, disturbing tale hinges is how Crake and Oryx and civilization vanished, and how Jimmy-who also calls himself "the Snowman," after that other rare, hunted specimen, the Abominable Snowman-survived. Chesterton once wrote of the "thousand romances that lie secreted in The Origin of Species." Atwood has extracted one of the most hair-raising of them, and one of the most brilliant.
In Other Worlds
At a time when speculative fiction seems less and less far-fetched, Margaret Atwood lends her distinctive voice and singular point of view to the genre in a series of essays that brilliantly illuminates the essential truths about the modern world. This is an exploration of her relationship with the literary form we have come to know as "science fiction," a relationship that has been lifelong, stretching from her days as a child reader in the 1940s, through her time as a graduate student at Harvard, where she worked on the Victorian ancestor of the form, and continuing as a writer and reviewer.
This book brings together her three heretofore unpublished Ellmann Lectures from 2010: "Flying Rabbits," which begins with Atwood's early rabbit superhero creations, and goes on to speculate about masks, capes, weakling alter egos, and Things with Wings; "Burning Bushes," which follows her into Victorian otherlands and beyond; and "Dire Cartographies," which investigates Utopias and Dystopias. In Other Worlds also includes some of Atwood's key reviews and thoughts about the form. Among those writers discussed are Marge Piercy, Rider Haggard, Ursula Le Guin, Ishiguro, Bryher, Huxley, and Jonathan Swift. She elucidates the differences (as she sees them) between "science fiction" proper, and "speculative fiction," as well as between "sword and sorcery/fantasy" and "slipstream fiction."
For all readers who have loved The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood, In Other Worlds is a must.
The Handmaid's Tale
The Blind Assassin
- Twitter: Speaker
- Twitter: Lavin