I’ve been a huge fan of Margaret Atwood since I read The Handmaid’s Tale in the early 90s. Published in 1985, this dystopian novel won the 1985 Governor General’s Award and the very first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987! It was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize and the 1987 Prometheus Award. Despite the accolades, and having been adapted into a 1990 film and a 2000 opera, many readers are just finding Atwood’s masterpiece thanks to a new TV series created by Hulu and starring the amazing Elisabeth Moss.
Regardless of how or when you’ve found Margaret Atwood, I say “hooray.” Now you must run, not walk, to your local library and check out all of her books. I highly recommend starting with my other two favorites: The Blind Assassin and Alias Grace. The Blind Assassin, published in 2000, is an amazing blend of historical and science fictions, and contains a novel within a novel. It won the Man Booker prize and Time magazine named it the best novel of 2000 and included it in its list of the 100 greatest English-language novels since 1923. Alias Grace is a work of historical fiction about the notorious 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper, of which two other Kinnear household servants, Grace Marks and James McDermott, were convicted of the crime.
Atwood’s novels feature strong female characters facing adversity. Her books are politically charged and she’s an advocate for the environment and animals. While she is best known for her work as a novelist, Atwood has also published fifteen books of poetry. Oh, and she’s an inventor too! She is the creator and developer of the LongPen, a remote signing device that allows a person to remotely write in ink anywhere in the world via tablet and the internet. Impressed yet? Here’s one more tidbit: her latest novel, Hag-Seed, is a modern retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It’s smart and funny and inventive–just like Margaret Atwood.