“The TV adaptation of her dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale captured the political moment. Ahead of a new series, Atwood talks bestsellers, bonnets and the backlash against her views on #MeToo” — The Guardian

Images of Don DeLillo, Alice Munro, Cormac McCarthy, Joan Didion, Margaret Atwood, Ursula K. Le Guin, Zadie Smith, Stephen King, Philip Roth, Alice Walker and more — Literary Hub

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Margaret Atwood

Rebecca Mead has posted a profile of Margaret Atwood in The New Yorker, recognising the increasing relevance of her work to our political and ideological climate. When conversation moves onto the subject of writing and writing practices, Atwood reveals that she follows no specific method or routine:

“Unlike many writers, Atwood does not require a particular desk, arranged in a particular way, before she can work. ‘There’s a good and a bad side to that,’ she told me. ‘If I did have those things, then I would be able to put myself in that fetishistic situation, and the writing would flow into me, because of the magical objects. But I don’t have those, so that doesn’t happen.’ The good side is that she can write anywhere, and does so, prolifically. […] On one occasion, over tea, she showed me her left hand: it had writing on it. ‘When all else fails, you do have a surface you can write on,’ she said.”

Lecture slide from Utopia: Suffrage to Cyberpunk.
Lecture slide from Utopia: Suffrage to Cyberpunk.

I’m currently teaching a literature module at Cardiff University entitled Utopia: Suffrage to Cyberpunk, which traces the development of utopian/dystopian writing in the twentieth-century. Yesterday’s lecture included something of a surprise, when Margaret Atwood  took time to share a few words the group via Twitter. We spent a few minutes at the end of the lecture following her sage advice, collectively acquainting ourselves with the wonders of Thug Notes.

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The Handmaid’s Tale was published in 1985 to overwhelming critical acclaim. It won the Governor General’s award for English-language fiction that year, and the inaugural Arthur C Clarke award in 1987. Often labelled a feminist dystopia, the novel captivates and terrifies in equal measure. Is Gilead the result of puritanism, misogyny and megalomania taken to their logical end? Is Atwood shooting readers a warning that this is where fanaticism and militarisation at the expense of humanity might lead?”

More at The Guardian.

“Three very influential artists are partaking in the making of an upcoming Netflix miniseries. The first is Margaret Atwood, providing source material through her based-on-a-true-story crime novel, Alias Grace. The second is writer/director/actor Sarah Polley — known for her beautiful documentary Stories We Tell her odd, contemplative rom-com, Take This Waltz, and her Oscar nominated drama, Away From Her. According to Deadline, she’ll be writing and producing. And the third is American Psycho‘s Mary Harron, who’ll be directing.”

More at Flavorwire.

“Canadian author says she is humbled to accept reward and is praised by judges for championing environmental and human rights causes”

More at The Guardian.

“[…] it’s amazing to me how rare it still is to find complex female friendships in literature for adults (YA has it a little more locked), and even the whiff of a good one can send me straight to the bookstore. In case you’ve been having the same feeling, here are 25 books that investigate female friendship in one form or another.”

More at Flavorwire.

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Pynchon, DeLillo, Atwood, Dostoyevsky, DeLillo.

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An interview with Trisha Gupta for Caravan Magazine
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Margaret Atwood

[Margaret Atwood:] So I went to Harvard and became a nineteenth century specialist. You get to read a lot of utopias. They thought everything was going to get better and better. We didn’t get dystopias until the twentieth century.

That’s fascinating. Does that connect to what you said recently, that now isn’t the time for realistic fiction?

What I said was, it’s hard to write really realistic fiction, unless you pretend that nobody watches TV, or is on the internet. To make it plausible, people would have phones. Things get arranged differently. It’s not as easy as it was when reality was more static. Think of Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel, The Circle—is it predictive, or is it of the moment in which he wrote it? It has to be the latter, because there isn’t any “the future.” There’s an infinite number of possible futures, and we don’t know which one we’re going to get. So I say, write plausible fiction. The reader has to believe it. (more…)

Alison Flood (The Guardian) reports that the Canadian author’s new work will not be read for 100 years

Depending on perspective, it is an author’s dream – or nightmare: Margaret Atwood will never know what readers think of the piece of fiction she is currently working on, because the unpublished, unread manuscript from the Man Booker prize-winning novelist will be locked away for the next 100 years. (more…)