July Featured Author: Margaret Atwood
This month’s featured author is another one of our favorites: Margaret Atwood. Atwood has a new book coming out September 29th titled, The Heart Goes Last. I literally did a happy dance around the house when I received an advanced copy of this book! I’ll be posting a review in September. Keep reading to learn more about Atwood and to see our rankings of her books.
Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Northern Ontario, Canada. She is one of Canada’s most well-known, versatile, and influential writers. She has been published in over 35 countries and has written novels, poetry, children’s books, and critical essays. Her works have been shortlisted 5 times for the Man Booker prize and she has won multiple literary awards including the Booker Prize (The Blind Assassin), Governor General’s Award, the Giller’s Prize in Canada, the Premio Mondello in Italy, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award. In June 2015 she contributed the unpublished novel Scribbler Moon, to the Future Library Project that will contain unread works famous authors to be opened in 100 years.
Atwood is very active online with her own website, goodreads, twitter, and Facebook accounts. She also is an active member of Wattpad, the online community for readers and writers where anyone can share their attempts at writing to get feedback. On Wattpad, she collaborated with Naomi Alderman on a serialized zombie novel. Wattpad even named a poetry award in her honor “the Attys”. The Guardian recently wrote a piece listing her as one of the top 10 authors who excel on the internet. She’s 75 years old and 100 times more savvy (and much cooler) with social media than either of us!
In addition to her numerous achievements in the literary world, Atwood is also an environmental activist – an interest that is clear from reading her work. She and her husband are Joint Presidents of the Rare Bird Society. She grew up in a family of biologists (as the daughter of an eminent Canadian entomologist) and as a child she lived “in the woods” in a research settlement with no electricity or running water. She continues to actively promote a variety of environmental issues on her various social media platforms. She even has a coffee bean named after her as part of a fundraiser for the Peelee Island Trust.
Atwood can be a polarizing author among our community of readers and we’ve noticed that people either seem to love or hate her works (we’re on the love it side). Regardless of how you feel about her books, she has had an important impact on Canadian literature. In 2001 she was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. She founded the Writer’s Trust of Canada and is a founding trustee of Griffin Poetry Prize.
Book Worm’s thoughts: Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite authors who often writes in both my favourite genre (post apocalyptic / dystopian fiction) and many other genres. I know there are a lot of people who dislike Atwood as a writer and all I can say is WHY?? I would also say if you have only read one Atwood and not enjoyed it try another as her books are different each time. Below are my abbreviated thoughts on the Atwood books I have read.
Alias Grace – 4 stars a murder mystery that leaves you hanging.
Oryx and Crake – 5 stars and a favourite post apocalyptic/dystopian fiction at its chilling best, but what caused the plague and why was one man spared? This book is on sale at Amazon right now for 2.99. You can click the title to go to the page.
The Year of the Flood – 4 stars. This book is a character study of the survivors of the plague in Oryx and Crake. It examines the members of a religion allowed to flourish now that most of humanity has gone.
MaddAddam– 5 stars. In this book, we learn more about the background of the characters who survived the plague and those who didn’t. The 2 worlds can no longer be kept apart so what does the future hold for any of us?
Cat’s Eye – 4 stars. A story of how a trip home can trigger memories of childhood bullying that could have been devastating.
The Blind Assassin– 5 stars and a favorite. The blind assassin is a story within the main narrative of the book it is a story told between lovers, but who are they? The “main” narrative deals with the life story of 2 sisters growing up, one of whom we know has committed suicide.
The Robber Bride – 3 stars. It is the story of 3 friends whose lives are all effected by Zenia the robber bride, a woman with an axe to grind.
Surfacing – 3 stars. A young woman returns to remote community to discover what happened to her father. This is really a novel of 2 halves the first of which was great. Read into that what you will.
The Edible Woman – 3 stars. An interesting insight into the relationship between the mental and the physical self.
Stone Mattress: Nine Tales – 3 stars. A collection of nine short stories. The first three feature the same characters at different points in their lives and in a later story we revisit the characters from The Robber Bride.
Jen’s Thoughts: I also like Atwood although I am making my way more slowly through her books and have only read three. I’m currently reading a galley of her newest book which will be released in September. What I like most about her books is that they can read like bestsellers (easy to read with engaging plots), but they are thought-provoking and usually deeper than most books that you’ll typically find on the bestseller list.
The Handmaid’s Tale. 5 stars. This was a book that I tried reading in high school but was clearly too young to understand. When I reread it again after college, I finally got it. It’s one of the few books that I’ve given a 5-star rating. A terrifying concept that feels threatening in an all to real way.
Oryx and Crake: 5 stars. Like Book Worm, I also really liked this book. The market is flooded with apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian literature, much of it fairly awful. This is a gem in the genre that is written with the typical wit and intelligence you come to expect from her work.
Surfacing: 3 stars. I loved the first half of this book and strongly disliked the second half. It was a little heavy handed with the 1970s feminist messaging for my tastes –and this statement is coming from a person who considers herself to be a feminist. Definitely not a book that everyone will enjoy.
Do you want to try out her books for yourself? You can find buy her books (and pre-order her new book) here: Margaret Atwood’s Amazon Page
We want to hear from you. Do you love or hate her works? Which are your favorites and least favorites of her books?