Photo: Kristian Bogner
What’s Next On Margaret Atwood’s Reading List?
Nearly 50 years have passed since the publication of her first novel, but Margaret Atwood has never felt more relevant. With the immense success of 2017’s television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, the CanLit icon’s speculative fiction is proving as captivating—and as topical—as ever.
We recently caught up with the acclaimed novelist and poet on an Adventure Canada cruise through the Canadian Arctic—a voyage that Atwood and her family have been making regularly for the last 20 years. In fact, it was on board an Adventure Canada ship that Atwood began writing the title story in her collection of short fiction, Stone Mattress, concerning a plot to commit the perfect murder on a (you guessed it) cruise ship.
As we sailed alongside the low tundra and icebergs in southern Nunavut, Atwood confessed—unsurprisingly, perhaps—to being an avid reader herself. But which types of books earn that coveted spot on her nightstand?
“All kinds,” said Atwood. “[The choice of book] depends on mood of the moment, and also the first page.”
Here are five titles she said she was particularly looking forward to cracking open when she returned home from the voyage.
The Power by Naomi Alderman (2017)
Although The Power won’t make its print debut in Canada until mid-October, this winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction already bears Atwood’s seal of approval. Set in the future, Naomi Alderman’s dystopian science fiction novel concerns women who develop the power to kill men with a single touch. “What would happen if women had a physical power that would negate that of men?” Atwood ponders. “Would they be angels? Responsible rulers? Or…”
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Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez (2001)
Atwood is known not only for her writing but also for her environmental work and advocacy. Atwood has travelled regularly with her partner Graeme Gibson and family through the Canadian Arctic exploring the vast tundra and the communities that call this region home. A favourite of both Atwood and Gibson, Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams is an in-depth examination of Canada’s northern territories, exploring how those landscapes can shape our imagination and dreams.
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