Margaret Atwood has long been a literary titan, but “current events have polished the oracular sheen of her reputation,” says The New Yorker. With her 1985 dystopic novel The Handmaid’s Tale back on the bestsellers lists and Hulu’s acclaimed adaptation (starring Elisabeth Moss) streaming, Atwood’s sharp eye is more necessary—and prescient—than ever.
“With dry, ironic wit, a poetic sensibility and more than a hint of the Gothic, [Margaret Atwood] has uncompromisingly observed the psychology of people in her society.”— Mel Gussow, The New York Times
Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale is already making headlines—not just for its star cast, but for its deft and timely content. While the book is not precisely predictive, it does foretell a future where women’s rights of reproduction or governed by a conservative (and patriarchal) administration. Moss, who also is one of the show’s producers, stars as Offred, a woman stripped of all her rights and freedoms, forced to produce children for a largely infertile ruling class. “It is, in a word, a nightmare,” says Moss, of the world that Atwood evokes.
A winner of many international literary awards, including the prestigious Booker Prize, Arthur C. Clarke Award, Governor General’s Award, the PEN Pinter Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction. In 2017, she will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle. 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 most recent work is Hag-Seed, a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Atwood’s work has been published in more than 40 languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004, she co-invented the LongPen, a remote signing device that allows someone to write in ink anywhere in the world via tablet PC and the internet. She is a founder of ther Writers’ Trust of Canada and a founding trustee of the Griffin Poetry Prize. She is also a popular personality on Twitter, with over a million followers.
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.
“Margaret’s keynote set the stage for the subsequent panel discussions that followed in exactly the manner that we hoped would be possible. Her exploration of compassion was multi-layered, witty, and provocative, teasing with both the familiar and surprising ways that compassion shows up in the everyday. Her comments had broad appeal to the many nurses in the audience and to the general public as well. She was simply charming. Our planning team was wholly satisfied that Margaret was a fantastic choice for this event.”University of Calgary, Faculty of Nursing
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.”