Atwood, Margaret Eleanor

Atwood, Margaret Eleanor, 1939–, Canadian novelist and poet. Atwood is a skilled and powerful storyteller whose novels, set mainly in the near future, sometimes make use of such popular genres as historical, detective, and science fiction. Her writing typically treats contemporary issues, such as feminism, sexual politics, the fate of Canada and Canadian literature, and the intrusive nature of mass society. Her best-known novel, The Handmaid's Tale (1986; film 1990, miniseries 2017–), is set in Gilead, a mid-21st-century American dystopia controlled by religious extremists, where men rule and women are wives, servants, or childbearers. In The Testaments (2019; Booker Prize), 15 years have passed, and Aunt Lydia, a terrifying overseer of the childbearers, has rebelled and become a terrorist, and an underground road seeks to liberate Gilead's women.

Among her other novels are The Edible Woman (1969), Surfacing (1972), Bodily Harm (1981), The Robber Bride (1993), Alias Grace (1996; miniseries 2017), The Blind Assassin (2000; Booker Prize), The Penelopiad (2005), and the postapocalyptic trilogy made up of Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013). Her short stories have been collected in Dancing Girls (1983), Bluebeard's Eggs (1993), Moral Disorder (2006), and Stone Mattress (2014). She also has written a number of volumes of poetry, including The Circle Game (1965), Power Politics (1970), and True Stories (1981), children's books, and numerous essays. Her nonfiction includes Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008) and In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011).

See interviews in E. G. Ingersoll, ed., Margaret Atwood: Conversations (1990) and V.-L. Beaulieu, ed., Two Solicitudes: Conversations (1998); biographies by N. Cooke (1998) and R. Sullivan (1999); studies by A. E. and C. N. Davidson, ed. (1981), S. E. Grace and L. Weir (1983), F. Davey (1984), J. Mallinson (1984), J. H. Rosenberg (1984), B. H. Rigney (1987), J. McCombs, ed. (1988), K. VanSpanckeren and J. G. Castro, ed. (1988), S. Hengen (1993), E. Rao (1993), S. R. Wilson (1993), C. Nicholson, ed. (1994), L. M. York, ed. (1994), C. A. Howells (1996), K. F. Stein (1999), H. Bloom, ed. (2000), R. M. Nischik, ed. (2000), P. Cuder (2003), C. Tennant (2003), and S. R. Wilson (2003).

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