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Margaret Atwood Will Make You Afraid Of Her Tomorrow

Novelist Margaret Atwood is back with her end of the world trilogy and a new human race.

Canadian novelist and poet Margaret Atwood is out with a new novel in her dystopian trilogy about a future world gone wrong. (Jean Malek)

Canadian novelist and poet Margaret Atwood is out with a new novel in her dystopian trilogy about a future world gone wrong. (Jean Malek)

Margaret Atwood writes “speculative fiction” — but don’t call it science fiction, she says.  It could all happen.  And maybe it is.  Her latest novel is the culmination of a mind-bending trilogy story of the end of the world that seems all too hideously possible.  The world, debauched and wrecked by human over-reach.  A designer plague has wiped out almost all of old humanity.  Gene-altered pigs and a successor race of leaf-eating humanoids are all over.  A new Genesis story is unfolding.  For a new world.  Up next On Point:  novelist Margaret Atwood, and after us.

– Tom Ashbrook


Margaret Atwood, author, essayist, poet and activist, author of the new novel, “MaddAddam.” (@MargaretAtwood)

From Tom’s Reading List

NPRAtwood Imagines Humanity’s Next Iteration In ‘MaddAddam’ – “Like Year of the FloodMaddAddam deals with the question of how to rebuild a better civilization in the ashes of what came before. In Year, we met the Gardeners, a group of eco-spiritualists who practice a kind of environmental animism. Now, in MaddAddam, we discover that the Gardeners are among the only survivors of the pandemic — partly because their religion taught them survival skills, and partly because many of them worked with Crake on the destruction of humanity.”

New York Times: Strange New World — “Fatefulness about the survival of the species is not new. Religious thinking has end-time built in, and for most of our sentient life on the planet human­kind has been predominantly religious. That has changed in Westernized countries, but only relatively recently, and alongside advances in scientific knowledge. Our new pessimism no longer depends on a deity to wipe out this wicked world. Since the Manhattan Project, we have learned how to do it ourselves.”

New York Review of Books: Margaret Atwood’s Tale — “Margaret Atwood has an international reputation that differs considerably from her reputation in her native Canada, where she became, virtually overnight in 1972, at the age of thirty-three, the most celebrated and controversial Canadian writer of the era. The daughter of an entomologist at the University of Toronto, with a master’s degree in Victorian literature from Harvard (1962), Atwood would seem to have an instinct for taxonomy; for the casting of a cold but not unsympathetic eye upon the strategies by which individuals present themselves to others in order to confirm their identity or, simply, like the desperate captive in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ her most widely read novel, to survive.”

Read an Excerpt of “MaddAddam” by Margaret Atwood

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  • J__o__h__n

    She was very funny at the reading last night. I’m looking forward to this show and can’t wait to start the book this weekend. Atwood is one of my favorite authors.

  • AC

    i’ve never read any of her works, for some reason, i thought she wrote romance? she sounds like an author i could really get into…

  • louisa demerjian

    Margaret Atwood is a brilliant writer, a friendly person and really funny. Anyone not familiar with her work should go out and start reading now. She’s fantastic.

  • ToyYoda

    Please ask Margaret. If the turn from utopian to dystopian writing reflects -perhaps- a transition in living conditions where improvement in daily life has improved enough that any more improvements represent some sort of trade off with something that we like.

    So for instance, sanitation improved health for society. Now, vaccinations do too but they come with some risk to the individual.

    • fun bobby

      utopian novels are all dystopian novels as “utopia” is a place that does not exist

  • Jeff

    Are there any authors that attempt to meld two very different genres together? I’ve always wondered why someone has never combined a fantasy world (medieval setting) with the dystopian world. It would be really interesting to read/create a novel that creates the fantasy world (magic, wizards & knights) which was created through a technological downfall…where the magic could be explained through real technology (i.e. technological implants that allow control of the elements).

  • Saighead

    Tom…please! Your interview “technique” is totally exasperating. Let the woman finish her thoughts for us! We’re tuned in to listen the artist, not your attempts to cleverly parse/deconstruct her.

  • AC

    that’s exactly right. kind of like ‘the path to hell is paved with good intentions’. how is it a good invention’s fault its misused?
    like the facial recognition readers on computers, initially born to help learning impaired childern – imagine this software in the wrong hands….
    we need to evolve more….

  • JB

    In fact, the tragedy in Frankenstein that turns the creature to rage is that he comes to realize that his ‘creator’ does not love him.

  • J__o__h__n

    Actually “scientific romance” was the name for the genre at the time Jules Verne and HG Wells were writing science fiction. (I learned that earlier this week when I finally got around to reading Atwood’s In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination.)

  • Crosby1209

    Echoing ‘Saighead’s comment, below, I often get so irritated with Tom’s
    lack of interview etiquette (and humility), I just turn the radio off.
    Tom: Please… have a nice, hot, steaming cup of “Get over yourself”
    from time to time, and let your guests finish their responses to your
    questions WITHOUT interrupting them.

  • Jon

    can any Americans think out of the Bible box?

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    I have never heard anyone flip a phrase, or reword a callers word(s) so quickly. I mean this in a positive sense. Mr. Ashbrook, is usually able to reveal the very essence of what a caller is trying to get across.

  • fun bobby


  • fun bobby

    its a Canadian thing you would not understand

  • TuckerThaTruckr

    Despite all the complaints, I’m glad the show devoted an hour to this book series and the questions it raises. It wasn’t Tom’s finest hour, but Mrs Atwood didn’t seem to understand that not every comment has to be a question. There is such a thing as a discussion rather than a Q&A.

  • Eva Robertson

    I have to say the exchange about quality over quantity of sex was just priceless . . . . and then Tom hemming and hawing his way into admiration of the creator’s preference for everyone eating leaves . . . . had me on the floor laughing. This was a battle of the sexes conducted in a civilized fashion but pretty much reflective of the not-so-pretty battles I’ve had with many a boyfriend and now my spouse over the years . . . . I have to wonder if the repeated interruptions that many of the commenters have noted stemmed from a less than benign desire (despite the always benign tone) to get the better of Margaret?

  • donald

    Disappointed that Atwood did not discuss her masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale.

  • Brad dayag

    I have always like reading left wing, humanity snuff fantasies.

  • JDB

    Well, I listened to the interview twice, and it was even more apparent to me on the second pass that Ms. Atwood attempted to dodge nearly every substantive question put to her for the first half of the show. Tom’s diligence, focus and attention showed not only his knowledge of the specific themes in her work, but a deep curiosity and appreciation for her genuine thoughts. As the interviewee, it was Atwood’s opportunity to respond directly to a knowledgeable and interested party, but she kept trying to divert and avoid. As the interviewer, it was Tom’s role to keep the program “On Point”. And as a listener, I was (and am, still) impressed.

  • Regular_Listener

    Great show! Ms. Atwood is a terrific guest (and not the first time she has been on OP, if I remember correctly). It is fascinating to hear her discussing her writing, ideas, and influences. And it was fun to hear both her and Tom enjoying themselves as well.

  • NewtonWhale

    I didn’t see that coming.

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