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Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood


Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood
UK Publication: March 2022
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

This ARC was provided by Vintage (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Hide your wallets before going in…

Synopsis from Goodreads:  This brilliant selection of essays—funny, erudite, endlessly curious, uncannily prescient—seeks answers to Burning Questions such as:

• Why do people everywhere, in all cultures, tell stories?
• How much of yourself can you give away without evaporating?
• How can we live on our planet?
• Is it true? And is it fair?
• What do zombies have to do with authoritarianism?

In over fifty pieces Atwood aims her prodigious intellect and impish humor at the world, and reports back to us on what she finds. The roller-coaster period covered in the collection brought an end to the end of history, a financial crash, the rise of Trump and a pandemic. From debt to tech, the climate crisis to freedom, from when to dispense advice to the young (answer: only when asked) and how to define granola, we have no better guide than Atwood to the many and varied mysteries of our universe.

My Thoughts:  This is Margaret Atwood so I was always going to love it, however this is also short pieces and non-fiction so I wasn’t going to love it that much, 3 stars reflects the balance between the two.

What is great about this book is the way it feels like a conversation with an old friend, you may not always agree but you can concede that the conversation is interesting and does provide a new insight. Atwood if funny, understated and self-deprecating and this makes for a great story telling style.

So why the need to hide your wallets? Because in this collection Atwood reviews a lot of books in such a way that I was like OMG yes I must read that. I currently have The Echo Maker by Richard Powers on order from the library #BlameItOnAtwood. Atwood also talks about the books she herself has written, where she wrote them and why she wrote them, I am now desperate to revisit The MaddAddam Trilogy but that will have to wait because…Booker & Netgalley books needed to read are scaring me. As if that wasn’t scary enough I am also tempted to venture into the world of Poetry a world I tend to avoid (forgive the pun) like the plague.

Atwood also provides fascinating insights into the rise of dictatorships and state control and despite denying any ability to predict the future the conflict in Ukraine is definitely there hiding between the lines or in the small print of everything Atwood is trying to warn us about.

Who would like this? For all the Atwood fans out there this is a must read, I would also recommend it to anyone who wants to know what goes on in a writers head, how you can see the future in the present and anyone who needs some book recommendations in genres they might normally run screaming from.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Funnily enough, I found the book reviews the least interesting. I think it would’ve been a bit more comprehensible if she provided a short blurb right at the beginning. That way, it would’ve been easier to follow. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the book. I especially loved the speeches on storytelling and writing, and her reflections on her own novels.


    April 3, 2022

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